December 29, 2015

Seat Belts Won't Keep Kids Safer on School Buses

Richard A. Williams

Senior Affiliated Scholar
Summary

As the snowy season descends upon us, it's important to make sure our vehicles are as safe as possible, including our school buses. For many people, that means considering adding seat belts to school buses. But would that really make children safer?

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As the snowy season descends upon us, it's important to make sure our vehicles are as safe as possible, including our school buses. For many people, that means considering adding seat belts to school buses. But would that really make children safer?

In November, child safety on school buses was discussed again by the Department of Transportation at a meeting of the National Association of Pupil Transportation. The association is responsible for the 500,000 school buses that ferry our children to and from school 240 days a year, including summer school. The issue of seat belts on buses has been debated for 40 years. Like a lot of issues, on the surface the answer seems not just obvious but morally justified. Seat belts save lives, so why wouldn't we put them on school buses?

But before relying on moral arguments to drive public health policies, we owe it to the people we're trying to protect to study whether or not the proposed policy will actually work. As it turns out, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has done just that.

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