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School Bus Safety

There's not a right-thinking person in this country - and this better include all of you - who would think about putting the kid in the passenger without using a seatbelt system that's appropriate for the kid's age, weight and height. And yet every morning and afternoon millions of Canadian kids get into school buses and there's not a seatbelt in sight.

Are we exposing them to unnecessary danger? Or still, are we giving them a double message? "Hey, Dad, I don't have to wear a belt on the bus? Why do I have to wear one in the passenger car?" Because I've been doing a little homework, see? And this book shows that you're one hundred and seventy times safer in a school bus as it is than in a passenger car. Now that seems a bit hard to believe. It's what the numbers say.

A part of the reason is school buses are huge. They weigh tons - compared to a passenger car. And we all know from the laws of physics, if you're in a big thing and it rolls over a little thing, huh, you're going to win in the big thing.

Secondly, these buses aren't like they were when we were at school. They've got these padded cushions front and rear. They talk about the concept of compartmentalisation. The kid sits in a little cocoon. If the bus hits anything, he bounces off a nice soft cushion instead of into the metal frame like we used to have to carve our initials into. These seats are attached to the frame much more sturdily than before. The fuel systems are much better protected, so the risk of fire is less.

Speaking of fire, if there is an incident like that, you've got one driver, seventy-two kids, how's he going to help seventy-two kids get out of seatbelts? Maybe the seatbelts could cause more danger than they prevent.

Plus, the seatbelt on the lap situation for a kid, the spine can be injured with a lap belt. And another thing this book points out: more kids are killed by being run over by school buses than killed inside 'em. You're safer inside the bus.

Now, I'm not saying we're finished with school bus safety. Research continues to try and make these things even safer because, after all, the death of one child is one death too many.


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