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School buses are one of the safest forms of transportation on the road today. An average of only seven passengers are fatally injured each year as, nationally, school buses carry over 23.5 million children daily. The Safety Board continues to investigate school bus crashes to ensure that this safety record continues.
The National Safety Board conducted a study on Bus Crashworthiness Issues. The conclusions of this study focus on several main issues:
- Occupants in the seating compartment but not in the area of intrusion were less likely to be seriously injured.
- Seatbelts do not prevent injuries in all crash situations and can actually increase injuries with the current school bus seat design.
- An occupant crash protection system should be developed that would protect school bus passengers in most accident scenarios.
As a result of this study, the Safety Board issued recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to develop and then require adherence to performance standards for interior occupant protection systems that will protect children in all crash scenarios, including side impacts and rollovers. NHTSA continues to research this topic and has not yet issued a requirement for the redesign of school bus interiors. (Click on More Information link below).
More Information - National Transportation Safety Board
School Bus Passenger Safety and Seat Belts
Commonly, people believe that school children are not protected during a crash because school buses do not have seat belts. In fact, school buses are designed with a clever occupant protection system, without the need for seat belts. This occupant protection system is called compartmentalization: the seats are strong, closely spaced together, high backed, well padded, and are designed to absorb energy during a crash.