Buckling Up, But Not On Buses

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - October 10, 2007

I have just seen a videotape of a school bus on the Mainland where the student riders were flying out of their seats - literally. Some flew across the aisle while others were tossed upside down. The images captured on a shaky, grainy black-and-white video tape from the ubiquitous onboard camera tell the disturbing story.

Why do we not demand seat belts on school buses?

It makes no sense to me that we have laws requiring child safety seats, booster seats, no children in the front seat and the spate of other laws requiring that children be secured, yet we allow the greatest concentration of children in a vehicle to travel unsecured.

Then again, our community is somewhat schizophrenic in our transportation laws. Until recently, we allowed children to ride unsecured in the back of pickup trucks. Even today, those over the age of 16 can ride in the bed of a pickup. There is no provision for seat belts or any other security. However, during the “Click-it or Ticket” campaign, citations are issued to anybody not strapped in their vehicle. I am certain anybody handed a $92 ticket for not wearing a seat belt is thrilled to see people in the backs of pickups speeding down the H-1.


A child’s age, height and weight for the compulsory use of a car or booster seat is very specific. I am not certain there has been a concerted effort of enforcement, but at least the laws are in place. However, the same care taken to ensure children are transported safely in passenger vehicles disappears when applied to other vehicles. If there is such a safety concern on the roadways, in concert with substantial penalties and fees, why does this logic not apply virtually anywhere else?

Airline travel is one of those contradictions. Children under the age of 2 can fly while seated on an adult’s lap. Granted, this may be economically beneficial, but would this be acceptable in the back seat of your minivan?

We took a limousine ride recently and found there were no seat belts. Does the Public Utilities Commission consider this before registering such businesses?

There are no seat belts on TheBus. Why not?

When is the last time you took a shuttle bus from Waikiki to Ala Moana or downtown? Did you see any restraints? Not me.

Did you take a taxi recently? Did you notice if it had seat belts? In my experience, some do and some do not.

I understand that adults can make the decision to ride or not to ride a vehicle without safety restraints. But children are not in a position to make that rational determination. Their safety and their lives should supersede the “we all can make our own choices” argument.


The lack of restraints on school buses is unacceptable. The rationale countering this statement is that the seat backs on school buses are extra padded, thereby increasing safety. I also understand that officials don’t want seat belts on children in case a bus overturns. This sounds like a cop out to me.

Here is the reality.

Your children are potential missiles with backpacks while riding on an unsecured bus. There is a substantial amount of money in the business of transporting children. Bus operators should invest in making their vehicles safe for all passengers, especially children. If they refuse, our government should compel them to do so.

I am not a regulation kind of guy, but all you need to do is see the videotape and ask yourself if you want your children flying around inside a school bus.

I know I don’t.

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