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School bus safety

Why don’t school buses have seat belts?

School buses don’t require seat belts by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) because they are the safest vehicle. There are around 1,110 fatalities each year from school buses not having seat belts. I asked Stretch (our school’s bus barn owner) and this is his response. 

1. Why aren't there seatbelts on the school buses?

The short and quick answer is fire and water immersion. If there is a fire on a bus the chance for a driver to get back and unbuckle all the kids is very low. If a bus is to get into a lake or river, the same thing getting the kids unbuckled before the bus sinks.

2. Has the school buses been in an accident?

Our Tok School buses have not been in an accident since we have been running the buses. (2017)

3. What do the buses do when someone fails to stop at the sign?

Before the bus even turns on the Reds and Stop Sign, the driver monitors the other traffic to see if they are slowing and preparing to stop. The driver tries to keep the students on the bus until it is safe. If someone runs the Stop Sign. 1st, the bus driver radios to dispatch of the incident and the location. 2nd, they push the button on the camera system to mark the time. 3rd, they try to get as much info off of the vehicle as possible for identification. 4th, the manager looks at the video to add any other information and then submits the info to the State Troopers.

4. How do the school buses work?

The bus has a battery pack that holds 220 kW's (kilowatts or 220,000 watts). That is how they measure capacity. (w)watts = (v)voltage x (a)amperage.The battery voltage of the bus is about 250 D/C (direct current). Our houses and buildings use 120 - 240 volts A/C (alternating current). For comparison, a normal car battery uses 12 volts. So 250 volts is a lot of volts and it is dangerous. 240 volts A/C is supplied to the battery charger, the charger converts the electricity to 250 volts D/C and charges the battery. When the bus is in use the battery supplies stored electricity to all the circuits of the bus: Drive motor, power steering motor, heat for the battery and the passengers, lights, etc. The more electricity that is used for heat or other items the less distance the bus can be driven. For example, the bus in the middle of winter can only go about 65 miles on a full charge, but it can go about 130 miles in May when it is warm outside. The bus uses as much electricity to heat as it does to drive. Hope this helps, and please ask if you need more info or more explanation on anything. I would be happy to bring the bus to the school and show you some of the parts and how it works.

5. Is school buses safer than a standard vehicle?

The school buses we use are larger than most vehicles and the passengers are higher off the ground so that keeps them out of the way of most passenger cars.  The seats are designed to be close together and padded front and back to be protection for the passenger in front-end and rear-end collisions. The bus body is also designed to separate from the frame in a major accident to lessen the impact on the passengers. There are debates on whether school buses should have seat belts or not, some districts require it and others do not. In my experience, just because they are there does not mean the kids will wear them.


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