School Bus Facts
- School buses are simply the safest way to transport children to school. The size and weight of the vehicle and the safety features designed into it offer substantial protection to bus occupants in a collision. Despite the large number of children transported and the distances travelled, serious injuries and fatalities are very rare. In fact, less than 0.02 per cent of all Canadian road deaths involve an occupant of a school bus.
- In Canada, the design of the vehicle is governed by approximately 40 federal regulations and by Canadian Standards Association standard D250. These requirements cover such things as the colour of the bus, interior and exterior body designing, mirrors, lighting systems and seat design.
Why Are School Buses Not Equipped With Seat Belts?
As a safety conscious parent you have buckled your child into the proper child restraint seat through infancy and toddler stages and advanced to a certified booster seat when they grew to 18 kg or 40 lbs. Your child is now likely at that stage where they are reminding you to buckle up when getting into the family vehicle rather then vice versa. It is estimated that the use of proper child restraints reduces the risk of serious injury or death to children riding a passenger vehicle by 75 per cent.
So now as your child embarks on their journey to school and back home each day aboard the big yellow school bus you may be wondering, "why are my kids not required to be buckled up?" Your children may also be asking you why they don't have to buckle up while riding in a school bus.
School bus transportation is the safest mode of transportation in North America.
The following information is provided to help you understand your children are protected while riding in a school bus and why it is not equipped with seat belts.
In the 1970s both the Canadian government and United States Department of Transport studied protection of school children riding in school buses. They came to the conclusion that the best method was "passive protection". Transport Canada made mandatory regulations specific to school bus design under the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards Act. All new school buses must be built with high back seats, padded seat backs, padded seat rails and stanchions, and specific seat distances between seat centers. As well, the seats must be designed so that they would have a specific rate of collapse with a given force.
The school bus design feature referred to as compartmentalization is a major contribution to preventing serious injuries and fatalities. Similar to any other vehicle crash, occupants ejected from a vehicle are more likely to suffer more severe injuries. A school bus is designed right down to the size of the window openings to prevent a child from being ejected, even in an accident where the school bus may roll over.
Transport Canada conducted crash tests using school buses, which showed that school bus passengers who wore lap seatbelts in conventional forward facing seats received more severe injuries that unbelted passengers did. The seats in school buses are designed and padded to absorb the impact of a person's chest hitting the back of the seat in front of them. In frontal and rear impact crashes where the majority of serious injuries occur, tests show the heads of students wearing a lap seat belt would be the sole point of impact. This can cause serious neck and head injuries to the child wearing a seat belt.
Parents and other road users are advised that accident statistics clearly show that the most dangerous part of the trip, to and from school, is when the child is outside the bus, i.e. loading and unloading. A parent should caution their children to follow school bus driver instructions for loading and unloading, watch for other traffic and stay clear of the bus after unloading. School bus drivers have limited visibility of students in close proximity to the bus.
In Alberta school bus stop arms are used when picking up children in rural areas. It is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped with its red safety lamps and stop arm activated. Doing so could result in a fine of $402.00 and 6 demerit points. School bus drivers and school buses are subject to the most rigorous driver and vehicle safety standards in Canada, if not North America.
We hope this information has helped to explain why seat belts are not required in school buses.
As motorists you must drive with extra care when approaching a school bus from either direction. When activated the overhead alternating RED lights mean only one thing "this bus is loading or unloading children!" Passing the bus when children are loading or unloading is dangerous, illegal and could be deadly. This is why the consequences are so high.
As parents, please remind your children to be extra careful when getting on and off the bus. Teach them to always obey the driver's directions and watch for traffic approaching the bus from either direction before crossing the road. Also remind your children to follow their school bus driver's directions promptly and courteously at all times and to follow all safety rules and policies implemented by Elk Island Public Schools. This will allow your childrens' school bus driver to focus their attention on driving the bus, so that your children can be transported to and from school as safely as possible.