Why aren't there seatbelts on busses?I have heard plenty of answers for this question in my life, but since this is a website for teachers, I figured I might possibly get the right answer. Thanks!

Expert Answers
Michael Foster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you're talking about school buses, this is an issue that doesn't seem to have an adequate answer. Yes, there have been several well-publicized occurrences where students have been thrown out of seats, going around corners, going over railroad tracks, etc. Since there are such stringent laws concerning children in private cars, one would think that there would be even stricter demands on public school buses of all places.

The simple answer that I've heard for this is simple practicality. Monitoring the proper use of the seat belt for a busload of children would be a nightmare. The very youngest children might not be able to correctly fasten the buckle, besides being held responsible for doing so, which would be just as bad as not seat belt at all. A full-time bus aide would have to be hired just to check seat belts  (not likely with cash-strapped school districts).

Another reason I've heard is one of safety. In the event of an accident, the bus catching on fire, or being stalled on a train track, etc. necessitating the evacuating of the children from the bus, many children would need help unbuckling their seat belts (again, especially the youngest ones), especially if they were terrified.

The thought alone of 50+ children strapped in a burning bus, burning alive is enough to cause a lot of hesitation about mandating seat belts.

joe30pl eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a topic that has been debated almost since the seat belt and the bus were invented. Multiple groups (including the various chapters of the PTA) argue for seat belts or some form of restraint of school buses, but groups such as The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say different. Studies have been conducted on both sides, but the con side generally says that seat belts could be used as weapons, have no impact on saving a child's life in the event of a wreck, or the cost needed would be better spent on other venues.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have been in school busses that do have seatbelts, and the students are required to wear them.  Most, however, do not.  Perhaps the thinking is that the bus is so large, and collision with any smaller vehicle (the majority fit into that unless the driver hits a semi), would pose no threat to the passengers?  I don't know, but this is an excellent question.  I am sure it has to do with different laws and requirements and someone somewhere was trying to save a buck.

cburr eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I've been reading at a few sites and there are TONS of arguments on both sides.

What I was told, as a teacher, when I asked this was that there had been studies done showing that if the bus had a serious accident -- like one with a risk of fire -- seatbelts greatly reduced the chances that the kids could get out in time.  On the other hand, with the high seats normal accidents were far less dangerous without seat belts than in a regular car.

butloveisblindbaby | Student

Also, to add, I was talking about school busses.

krishna-agrawala | Student

Seat-belts on cars and buses are meant for safety of those travelling in these vehicles.

Government in different countries have passed laws regarding fitting and wearing of seat-belts. Depending on perception of the risk involved the laws differentiate between the car and buses, as well as between drivers and passengers. Like in Pune it is compulsory for the drivers and front seat passengers in a car to wear seat belts, but not so for passengers in the rear seats. I believe in USA also the laws are similar.

In buses again the drivers are required to wear seat-belts, but for passengers no seat-belts are either necessary or provided.

However there are some countries where wearing of seat-belts is compulsory for bus passengers also.

epollock | Student


The reason why buses do not have seat-belts is due to economics and liability.

The current theory of buses is that passengers are protected by cushions on their seat and in back and in front from the passenger in front.  This is known as compartmentalization. It consists of rows and columns of padded seats. These padded seats offer riders so much protection that in the event of accidents, they are overwhelmingly protected.

And since those few bus accidents that do happen are not frontal or rear-end collsions, the federal government (NHTSA) does not mandate seat belts like they do on airplanes.

To refit buses with seat-belts would cause the seats to be thicker and have less padding for the seat-belt systems resulting in more expenses for the bus companies and making it more unlikely for the companies to do that with so few accidents.

Also, the likelihood of people wearing seat-belts, or compliance, is considered very low. For one or two stops, people that have to get off in such a short time would not likely wear the seat-belt. Children who ride school buses might consider the seat-belts as toys and play with them, or for older kids, more of a nuisance also.

aj11 | Student

There are many types of buses. The bus you are referring to would probably be the city buses. It's because the government doesnt regulate the city buses to have the seatbelts, and so the bus companies, when making the buses , trying to maximize their profits, dont buy the seatbelts.

Another reason would be because the for the city buses, the distance traveled is relatively shorter

wizarcd | Student