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Harefuah. 2008 Aug-Sep;147(8-9):717-21, 749.

[Seatbelts on school buses: are they safe for our children?].

[Article in Hebrew]

Author information

1
The Israel National Center for Trauma and Emergency Medicine Research, The Gertner Institute, Tel Hashomer.

Abstract

In Israel, 280,000 pupils travel daily to school and back home by means of school transportation. In an effort to increase school transportation safety, the installation of lap belts in school transportation vehicles is required since September 1, 2006. In Israel, laws are often passed with good intentions, but frequently without exploring the potential outcomes. Traffic regulation 364a states that "lap belts or other seatbelts" are required in all vehicles used for school transportation. The objective of this study is to review the world-wide literature regarding seatbelts on school buses with an emphasis to identify the risks associated with lap restraints. Over 50 studies, articles and position papers referring to the efficacy of seatbelts, with an emphasis on school transportation, were reviewed. According to the literature, this new traffic regulation could produce more devastating outcomes than previously. Seatbelts were designed to prevent passenger injuries during a motor vehicle crash. Researchers have not proven efficacy of seatbelts in school buses. Lap-only belts have shown to increase the risk of severe injury among children, even in mild crashes. Since young children are not adequately developed to take the force of a lap-only restraint, these belts have been associated with internal injuries, lumbar fracture-dislocations, abdominal contusions and head injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the USA has reported that lap belts are not effective in preventing injury among children traveling by bus. Children have a two to three fold risk of severe injury when using lap only restraints. On the contrary, lap-shoulder belts may reduce the risk of abdominal injuries by up to 50% relative to lap-only belts. In conclusion, policy makers aimed to implement regulations which will reduce injuries and fatalities. However, neglecting to carry out an in-depth professional review has brought about a regulation requiring lap belts in school buses; a decision which, according to international research studies, can potentially increase the injury risks among pupils.

PMID:
18935762
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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