Op-Ed: Reader Presents Case for Seat Belts on School Buses

Rudolph Breglia
Posted on August 14, 2019
Rudolph Breglia, a citizen advocate with the School Bus Safety Alliance (shown right), wrote a response to readers on seat belts being dangerous in the event of a fire.
Rudolph Breglia, a citizen advocate with the School Bus Safety Alliance (shown right), wrote a response to readers on seat belts being dangerous in the event of a fire.

A recent story on the School Bus Fleet website about two school districts in Ohio receiving new school buses with seat belts sparked some comments from readers on seat belts being dangerous in the event of a fire.

Rudolph Breglia, a citizen advocate with the School Bus Safety Alliance, was interviewed for the story, and sent this letter in response to readers’ comments:

Based on research and experience, the federal agencies responsible for school bus safety and many medical and safety organizations have recommended lap-shoulder belts for all school buses. Several states, cities (including here in Beachwood, Ohio), and many school districts now require lap-shoulder belts in their new school buses. Since 1968, seat belts in cars have saved hundreds of thousands of lives, are a proven safety tool, and their absence in school buses exposes children to substantial risk.

A 10-year North Carolina study found that less than 0.1% of all school bus crashes involved fire emergencies. A much more critical need exists for lap-shoulder belt protection when typical school bus crashes occur. In a school bus crash, children without seat belts move like clothes in a dryer [Breglia shared this simulation video as an example] and are injured or disoriented — leaving little chance for an orderly evacuation — or killed.

Wearing a lap-shoulder belt during a crash allows children a much greater probability of being conscious, mobile, capable of escaping, understanding instructions, and able to help others. Children have the seat belt safety habit based on their years of experience of driving in their parent’s car. Lap-shoulder belts are designed to release quickly under all conditions, but a known source of significant delay is crowding at single person-wide exits and in exit rows.

Are the research statistics, authoritative recommendations, nationwide trends, and laws that favor the availability of lap-shoulder belts to protect our most precious cargo wrong? The introduction of lap-shoulder belts in school buses into any community to reduce risk will necessarily involve encouragement, communication, education, training, periodic drills, and the establishment of a school district “mandatory use” policy involving the school administration, parents, teachers, school bus drivers, and, most importantly, the children. It doesn’t need more misinformation about lap-shoulder belts causing delays during fires.

Related Topics: bus fires, school bus crash, seat belts

Comments ( 11 )
  • See all comments
  • Bull

     | about 2 months ago

    They do NOT release quickly in all conditions. I challenge him to test it. Put your entire weight against the belt and try to release the latch. He needs a little more education on seat belts.

More Stories
Mobile County (Ala.) Public Schools bus driver Kimberleigh Welch passed away on Thursday after another vehicle hit her bus, causing it to overturn. Photo courtesy Mobile County Public Schools

Alabama School Bus Driver Dies After Bus Overturns

Kimberleigh Welch is traveling along the highway when another vehicle hits her bus, causing it to overturn. She is taken to the hospital where she succumbs to her injuries. No one else was on board at the time.

Michigan City (Ind). Area Schools’ transportation department recently recreated The Supremes’ famous “Stop in the Name of Love” — urging motorists to think twice before illegally passing a stopped school bus. Photo courtesy Michigan City Area Schools

School Bus Safety Ramps Up Amid Increased Stop-Arm Running Incidents

Stop-arm cameras, partnerships with law enforcement for increased traffic patrol, and public safety campaigns are just some of the measures school districts are taking to ensure the yellow bus is the safest mode of transportation for students. Lawmakers are also introducing several federal and state safety bills.

File photo

Op-Ed: Going All-Electric May Mean Higher Costs, Emissions

Acquiring electric buses and the requisite infrastructure can have the unintended consequence of having more kids riding on older buses, generating higher overall fleet emissions, due to cutbacks on the basic turnover of the existing fleet.

Greenville County (S.C.) Schools aide Linda (shown left) and bus driver Carlos spotted a boy who had gone missing the night before and brought him to safety. Photo courtesy Greenville County Schools

School Bus Driver, Aide Locate Missing Boy

Bus driver Carlos and aide Linda of South Carolina are driving on their morning route when they spot a boy who had gone missing the night before. They convince him to board the bus and take him to safety.

Be the First to Know

Get the latest news and most popular articles from SBF delivered straight to your inbox. Stay on top of the school bus industry and don't miss a thing!