Why Don’t Buses Have Seatbelts?
Seatbelts are probably one of the first things that come to mind when exploring the topic of automobile safety. No matter what kind of car you drive, be it a domestically produced vehicle or a model imported from overseas, no matter if its a high-end supercar or even a compact family car, one thing they call have in common is seatbelts for every passenger. These belts come in many forms, though the most common are two- and three-point seatbelts.
Have you ever noticed that larger vehicles, particularly buses, do not have any seatbelts?
Don’t you think that’s unusual, considering an autobus is capable of transporting many more people at one time? In the case of school buses, the entire vehicle is packed full of kids which one would assume might require more stringent safety measures well beyond seatbelts.
The simple truth is that seatbelts may not be a practical, or even a necessary feature when it comes to buses.
Let’s explore a few reasons as to why this is the case.
Firstly, let’s go back to basics and understand what a seatbelt is actually meant to do. In a normal car, one of the purposes of a seatbelt is to keep passengers from being ejected out of the vehicle during a car accident.
See, a car accident tends to involve rapid deceleration of the vehicle, and as a result of momentum, passengers inside will be sent flying forwards hitting either the inside of the car, or being thrown out one of the windows. If the car was to be hit from the side or from the front by another vehicle, passengers’ bodies will also be thrown around in other directions with great force.
Any of these outcomes can result in injury or even death, which is why seatbelts are meant to keep the passenger secured in their seat as much as possible.
Buses are Larger and Heavier
In the case of a bus however, the vehicle is usually much larger and heavier than other vehicles on the road. If the bus were to hit a car, or if a car was to hit the bus, passengers inside the bus will not be affected as bad as in car accidents.
The odds of bus passengers being ejected from the vehicle are very low, especially since the bus won’t decelerate as much as a car in an accident, and also because its passengers have many things to hold in order to stop from moving around.
Also, bear in mind that when you’re in a bus your body tends to be much higher off of the ground than passengers in other types of vehicles. What this means is that any impact against the bus from other vehicles have lower odds of hitting passengers inside who are sitting close to the sides or windows.
Having said that, passengers can still sustain injuries during a bus accident; that remains true. The severity of those injuries however are minimized by the fact that buses are also designed with the concept of ‘compartmentalization’ in mind.
The next time you get on a bus, examine to the way the seats are arranged. The seating arrangement inside of a bus is actually designed with safety in mind. By placing the seats close to each other, passengers will not be thrown too far in any direction in the event of a crash. This keeps them safe, because the odds of their bodies slamming into something hard and causing injuries is actually much lower than if they were seated in a car.
Additionally, bus seats and other parts of the cabin tend to be made of softer material, and in some cases also have extra padding for this very same reason. Think of this extra padding and soft material as a ‘passive airbag’ that’s always deployed and ready to absorb force during an accident.
With that in mind, the potential benefit of having seatbelts in buses, versus the amount of money it would cost to install or retrofit those large vehicles with them is simply not worth it. Plus, having seatbelts in buses is no guarantee that all of the passengers will actually use them in the first place. There is no way for the bus driver to enforce the use of seatbelts in his or her vehicle because there are simply too many people on board and because they need to focus on actually operating the bus; unlike an airplane, there are no staff onboard other than the bus driver who can enforce the use of seatbelts.
Even the authorities, such as the police or even JPJ, would have to take a large amount of time just to make sure that all passengers in a bus are wearing their seatbelts.
So while it may seem counter-intuitive for a bus carrying dozens of passengers to be free from seatbelts, the truth is that riding on a bus is actually one of the safest ways to travel on land, and any risks or dangers on board are minimized through the ingenious ways the interior has been designed.