Don’t click, it’s a trick

Jack Renning, Opinion Writer

It’s an energetic place full of bubbling laughter and constant talking. It’s the bright, yellow domain of children everywhere. It’s the thumpy, bumpy, rickety ride that has filled many children’s mornings and afternoons. It’s of course, the school bus. The good old way to transport thousands of kids off to the wonderful world of school. This mode of transportation has been around since our grandparents’ days. With the same design, the same yellow and black color, the same tight packed seats, the same whooshing door and the same lack of seat belts. Wait, why don’t they have seat belts? That seems like a pretty big thing to leave out. Did they just forget to check that box on the safety checklist, sigh and say “it’s fine” when they noticed it? Well if there was some big safety checklist when building buses, no seat belts might very well be up there near the top.

Why talk about the lack of seat belts on school buses? It’s not some grand revelation after all, that is just the way it has always been. Well it might not be that way for much longer, as the Iowa School Board has just made a new rule that requires seat belts in all new school buses. This change will go into effect October 2 and is a new direction for the average bus rider. However, is this direction the right direction? The reasons for the absence of seat belts outweigh the benefits they bring. Seat belts aren’t in school buses because they already have another form of injury prevention in crashes called compartmentalization. This basically means that in the event of an accident, kids will be protected by their little compartment in between seats, bouncing into the spongy seat back, instead of being thrown out of the vehicle. The big reason that seat belts shouldn’t enter this equation is for the simplest reason, the reason school buses are built, for the kids. 

Kids are awesome but dump a couple dozen or so of them into a bus with a bunch of shiny, new seat belts to play with and things may get a bit chaotic. Seat belts are a wonderful safety feature, but they suffer from the simple fact that if used wrong it could be much worse for the person wearing it. If someone wears a seat belt wrong, there’s a greater risk for neck, shoulder and back injuries in an accident. On school buses, it’s hard enough to get kids to stay in their seats. Imagine how hard it would be to get them all to wear a seat belt correctly.

Some people may say that we could get all the kids to wear the seat belts right and overall safety would improve, but there will always be those few kids who don’t and if there should be one principle in school, it’s that every kid matters. So just remember that while seat belts are a great feature, they aren’t right for the vehicle that has wheels go round and round all through the town.