When a school bus is involved in a crash there are about a thousand things that need to be addressed immediately. We need to know how bad the crash was, who was involved, why the bus crashed, and do children need to be sent to the hospital? These are just the beginning of what needs to be assessed.
Then, there is what the media wants to know: who was involved, why did the bus crash, do children need to be sent to the hospital, and why were they not required to wear seatbelts on the school bus? That last question concerns me. I have been raised in a school bus filled world and as part of a privately owned school bus company. I feel that this question has caused a lot of anger and confusion over the years. I have never understood why it was so hard to understand. Personally, when they tally the votes for putting seatbelts in school buses they can put my vote firmly on the NO side of the board.
No, I’m not against safety. No, I’m not against improving our school buses. However, I don’t believe that putting seatbelts in school buses is necessarily the right or best way to increase safety for children on board. What I do believe is that in the last 23 years of my life I have been surrounded by people and an industry who bleed yellow. These people strive and demand to make school buses the safest they can be and they agree that the research and the testing does not tell us that seatbelts will always save the lives lost in past crashes.
I bring this up because of the recent school bus accident in Chattanooga that killed 7 children. Unfortunately, that accident was the fault of the driver’s poor reasoning and lack of training. As far as accidents go, this one was completely avoidable. The media asked their same questions and the answer they were given is that a local government has passed the first stage of having seatbelts required on school buses as of 2019. I don’t agree but if this makes the community feel better about this accident then they will do what they need to do.
I would have preferred an overhaul on their training program, an overhaul on their discipline program, an overhaul on the staff. They are the ones who failed those children by not following up with the driver and they are the ones responsible for this loss of life. I think the change needs to start with people; in this case the school bus did nothing wrong.
Chattanooga crash picture from www.abcnews.go.com