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Why don't school buses have seat belts?

Seat belt laws can be rather confusing. It's been found time and time again that seat belts protect people in car accidents in Illinois, reducing injuries and saving lives. However, when children are put on school buses, seat belts are suddenly ignored, as they're no longer mandatory. Why does this happen?

There are a few reasons. Overall, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has come out and said that children wouldn't be safer if they were forced to wear seat belts, so they're not needed. The reasons include:

-- The fact that some children actually use the belt buckles to strike other students.

-- If there was an accident, students could end up getting trapped on the bus, as they may not know how to get the belt off if they are disoriented and injured, and it may be impossible for a driver to go through and get all of the students out safely.

-- The size and design of the bus means that children are not typically injured in accidents. Most cars go under the passenger cabin if they hit a bus, and compartmentalization is used to help reduce injures. On top of that, the regulations about school bus safety are strict and things like emergency exits have been added.

-- Drivers have too many students on the bus to make sure they all actually put their seat belts on and keep them on.

At the end of the day, buses are simply seen as a safe way to travel, even without belts, and enforcement of seat belt rules would be too difficult. That being said, if you have a child who was injured in a school bus accident, you may be able to seek compensation.

Source: National Education Association, "Seat Belts, School Buses and Safety," accessed March 17, 2016

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