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I'm actually being serious...

...not snide.  For once.  But there's something I don't understand about the current kerfluffle in Connecticut about putting (or not) seat belts on school buses, and so far I haven't heard a sound bite or read an article that addresses it.

I am required by law to purchase, install, and use the appropriate infant/child/booster seat for the God-Empress of Burlington.  My co-workers generously purchased an infant seat for us as a shower gift that we were able to use until she was 22 pounds.  At that point we had to move her into a car seat, and the law requires her to remain in that car seat until she weighs 40 pounds.  Once that happens, we are required to have her in a booster seat until she is both over six years old and over sixty pounds in weight.  Judging by some of the studies and such that I have been reading, I suspect that by the time she is six, there will be further requirements for a booster seat for additional age/weight/height.  I believe that the current recommendation (but not a law) is for a booster seat until eight or so.  I could be misremembering that, though.

This all makes sense - it's based on the idea that one size does not fit all, and that belts sized for an adult will not safely restrain a five year old.  I get that - at 5'4", the shoulder belt in any car generally lays right across my throat rather than my shoulder.  But this is the basis of the thing that baffles me:

If the three point seatbelts in my car are not safe to restrain Charlotte in three years when she is school age, five years old, and presumably in the vicinity of forty pounds, how is it that they are going to be able to put three point seatbelts on school buses that will safely restrain forty pound five year olds, hundred and fifty pound eighteen year olds, and every age and weight in between?  Are they magic?  And if they have magic three point seat belts that will do this on a school bus, why don't they put them in my car?

Seriously - what am I missing here?  Because I'm obviously missing something.



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 14th, 2010 08:32 pm (UTC)
I think it's one of those *ZOMG*!!! WE NEEDZ SEETBELTZ OH NOES!!! THINK OF THE CHEEELDRIN!!! knee-jerk things. I suspect that no one has really given serious consideration to exactly how it will work to improve safety.

Or even if it's worth the expense. How many kids are hurt per school year in school bus accidents? How much would it cost to install belts in all the buses? How much would it slow down the bus journey by it having to sit at the stop (with red lights flashing and holding up traffic) until all the kids have been belted in. And you'd have to have an assistant on the bus too -- most 5 yo's can't manage seatbelts themselves.

I bet no one's done a cost-benefit analysis on this one. And it's all about the feelgood "for the children" thang.
Apr. 14th, 2010 08:40 pm (UTC)
Apparently, if this site is to be believed, not many kids are hurt in school bus accidents: http://www.onlinelawyersource.com/personal_injury/bus/statistics.html
The money shot:
Approximately 27 school aged children die in school bus accidents every year. Seven of these are passengers in a school bus and twenty are pedestrians. Of these twenty pedestrians, fourteen are killed by school buses and the other six are killed by other vehicles involved in a school bus accident.

So, how many hundreds of thousands of dollars is this going to cost to save 7/50th of a life (those are national statistics, not CT-specific). There are presumably a lot more injuries than deaths, but in the scale of childhood risks, school buses are scarcely a blip on the radar.
Apr. 14th, 2010 11:58 pm (UTC)
The price is what appears to have killed it for this session. Thankfully.
Apr. 14th, 2010 09:55 pm (UTC)
I was going to say just this. It's because it's entirely reactionary. It's not logical. E, darling, you're trying to see logic where logic cannot exist! ;)
Apr. 14th, 2010 11:59 pm (UTC)
I know, I know. It's a failing of mine. I insist on thinking at the damnedest times...
Apr. 14th, 2010 11:57 pm (UTC)
Oh, it's definitely a knee-jerk reaction - we just HAD a school bus crash with a student death. It was a bus full of kids going to a robotics competition, and the bus went off of I-84 in Hartford. The driver, by the way, did a *spectacular* job of keeping that thing from rolling.

Nonetheless, I'm unconvinced that seat belts are generally a good idea. Never mind the fact that when *I* was riding the bus, the bunch of us probably would have used them on each other as weapons...
Apr. 26th, 2010 01:33 pm (UTC)
I've heard/read someplace that one of the reasons the buses don't have seatbelts right now, is because the teens tended to damage them to the point of uselessness, AND used them to harm each other.
Apr. 14th, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC)
It's magic
You're not supposed to understand. It only makes sense in the fantasy fairyland wherein tax scofflaws run the IRS and Marxist redistributionists run the Commerce department.

Wait...oh well.

PS I tried to give a serious answer but the implant prevent me from doing so.
Apr. 14th, 2010 11:59 pm (UTC)
Re: It's magic
That's okay dear - we love you anyway. :-)
Apr. 15th, 2010 06:02 pm (UTC)
1. If they were there, the law would compel districts to enforce all the kids to wear seat belts. Because the bus driver is busy driving the bus, they'd either have to hire an aide for each bus to make sure all were strapped in and/or, if the bus driver/designated babysitter *didn't* watch the little darlings, and someone *wasn't* strapped in and an accident occurred--payday.

2. In addition to Hugh's contribution, it's also that the Law of Gross Tonage usually applies. (Bob could speak to this better than I could.) In my home district, for example, a bus t-boned a car a few years back that had run a stop sign--just couldn't stop in time. While the driver was killed, the children were fine. Just too much momentum/steel/etc.
Not effective for roll-overs, granted, but maybe applicable for standard smash-ups.
Apr. 15th, 2010 06:10 pm (UTC)
I refer to it as "mass always wins."
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )