Each day our bus drivers perform a yeoman’s job of transporting our children to school and safely home again. Generally, our children are more secure in those yellow behemoths than in the family car. Traffic accidents, however, are a fact of modern life, and however infrequently a school bus accident involves serious injury, a debate […]
Each day our bus drivers perform a yeoman’s job of transporting our children to school and safely home again.
Generally, our children are more secure in those yellow behemoths than in the family car. Traffic accidents, however, are a fact of modern life, and however infrequently a school bus accident involves serious injury, a debate about making buses safer usually ensues.
As a species, human beings are a peculiar lot. On one hand we extoll the genius of science. On the other, we neglect to alter our behavior while ignoring the implications to our survival. Such tendencies can be tragic for our offspring.
Infant car seats have been around since the 60s and the innovation of rear-facing restraints since the 70s. A vigorous debate continues to this day about how long children should use car seats, but it is abundantly clear that small children lack the musculature and bone structures to withstand the forces of sudden deceleration. Incomprehensibly, 75 percent of car owners improperly install car seats.
The proverbial mustard seed for this commentary was planted decades ago in a follow-up news story following the catastrophic crash of an airliner. An emergency worker relayed the carnage had been rendered particularly gruesome by torsos torn asunder by their seatbelts. Apparently, matching up trunks with legs is a fairly common occurrence following calamitous airline crashes.
This is Newton’s Second Law of Motion at work: a body in motion tends to remain in motion until acted upon by an outside force. When a plane stops suddenly, any unrestrained part of your body will continue in the original direction of travel at the original speed.
This does not constitute aerophobia. Flying is great! Fear of instantaneous deceleration, however, is not irrational. Newton’s Second Law is both universal and unforgiving. Consequences abound for failing to manage its effects, just as in jurisprudence, ignorance of the law is no excuse.
In some circumstances, seat belts offer all the security of the cold war “duck and cover” drills of decades ago.
If one were to propose a cost effective way to increase the survivability of crashes and decrease the severity of injuries associated with accidents, would you be interested? Would you be willing to relinquish one long-practiced tradition of human travel that originated when the forces of forward momentum were insignificant? The proposition is a relatively simple one: all passenger seats should face the point of origin and not the destination.
All public transportation would be far safer if the orientation of seats were changed to face the rear of the conveyance. Turning passenger seats around might eliminate the need for seatbelts since the result of sudden deceleration would push travelers into their seats instead of launching them into space. Then, only the driver would require a deployable airbag.
Ultimately, seatbelts may not be the answer for improving safety on school buses. A more scientific proposal would be to soften the surfaces on the interior of the cabin and orient the seats rearward to prevent children from being launched like ragdolls upon impact.