Seatbelts On School Buses: Safer Or Not?

Seatbelts On School Buses: Safer Or Not?

Could seatbelts save the lives of children or would it just hinder them in an accident?

There have been two school bus accidents in the state of Tennessee in less than two weeks. The first accident was in Chattanooga on November 21, 2016. Bus driver Johnthony Walker, 24, has been charged with several counts including vehicular homicide and reckless driving. Six children died as a result of the crash all between the ages of six and ten. Then on December 30, 2016 in Metro Nashville, Shirley Brown, 59, lost control of the bus she was driving and hit two vehicles. Fortunately, there were no fatalities, but five children and one adult from the car she hit were transported to a local hospital. Now one question that keeps popping up over and over again is whether or not school buses should be required to have seat belts?

Several organizations have done research on the issue, as this has been a question going back several years, maybe even decades. CNN reported that The National Transportation Safety Board says that it takes more than seatbelts to prevent injuries. The bus drivers are trained to take extra precautions when it comes to school bus safety, including making sure the children all stay seated. The buses are required to pass certain tests and protocols to even be on the streets. And with recent years, most buses have been equipped to have two cameras, one in the front of the bus and one in the back of the bus. These cameras can help with future accidents.

When asked about whether or not school buses should be required to have seat belts, many members of the Murfreesboro and surrounding communities had a lot to say. Surprisingly it wasn’t a one answer fits all scenario, but rather a multitude of answers from both parents and non-parents alike. One parent, Caitlin Clark of Murfreesboro, said that she is “against them only because there is typically only one adult, the driver, and if something happens to the adult, the kids might be trapped if they cannot unbuckle themselves. If there was a fire, that could end up being a terrible tragedy.”

While that is a major concern for most people who are against seat belts, another parent in the community, Eva Hunter, suggests that the buses have “one single belt across the seat for maybe the first half or part of the bus where small kids are who aren’t developed enough to try and stop themselves from flying or jarring their bodies… also an emergency seat belt release in case of emergency.”

One bus driver for Rutherford County, who wishes to remain anonymous, also said she was against seat belts too. Her main concern is the time it would take to get all the children off the bus in the event there was an accident. Her bus can hold 90 children at capacity, yet the bus can burn up in two minutes. “Also if I was driving a bus with seat belts, I would feel like I have 90 something weapons behind me. They can choke each other and hit each other.”

Speaking of trying to get everyone out of their seatbelts in the event of an accident, it took rescuers several hours to get all of the children off the Chattanooga bus accident in November. Those children didn’t have seat belts and most were elementary school aged. A lot of the children couldn’t even tell you the names of their parents and probably couldn’t have unbuckled themselves if need be.

For every person not in favor of seat belts, you’ll find another person in favor. Lindsey Van Why of Ashland City, TN is one parent in favor of them. “I am 100 percent for seat belts on school buses. Elementary age students, especially, are so small… we are seeing more and more of these crashes due to, in my opinion, the growing list of objects that are easily distracting drivers.”

Another person in favor of seat belts is Theresa Mills of Jackson, TN. Her issues go beyond requiring seat belts though. When asked if she supported buses having seatbelts, she said, “Yes, as long as they aren’t sitting three two a seat, which is what often happens. Overcrowding is a giant issue and probably a larger safety concern than seat belts.” It turns out that overcrowding on school buses in Tennessee isn’t against regulations as long as it doesn’t exceed 20 percent of the manufacturer’s rated capacity. Many states follow the same rule including Georgia, Alabama and Texas.

For parents with children riding buses on a daily basis, rest easy. USA Today reported last year that fatal school bus accidents are rare. “From 2004 to 2013, U.S. drivers were involved in 340,039 fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Of those, 1,214, or just 4 percent, were classified as “school-transportation-related…”. Once averaged out, it shows that only six students per year are killed in a school bus related accident across the US. Odds are in your favor to let your kids ride the bus.

Cover Image Credit: BRUCE GARNER

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5 Perks Of Having A Long-Distance Best Friend

The best kind of long-distance relationship.

Sometimes, people get annoyed when girls refer to multiple people as their "best friend," but they don't understand. We have different types of best friends. There's the going out together best friend, the see each other everyday best friend and the constant, low maintenance best friend.

While I'm lucky enough to have two out of the three at the same school as me, my "low maintenance" best friend goes to college six hours from Baton Rouge.

This type of friend is special because no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you're always insanely close. Even though I miss her daily, having a long-distance best friend has its perks. Here are just a few of them...

1. Getting to see each other is a special event.

Sometimes when you see someone all the time, you take that person and their friendship for granted. When you don't get to see one of your favorite people very often, the times when you're together are truly appreciated.

2. You always have someone to give unbiased advice.

This person knows you best, but they probably don't know the people you're telling them about, so they can give you better advice than anyone else.

3. You always have someone to text and FaceTime.

While there may be hundreds of miles between you, they're also just a phone call away. You know they'll always be there for you even when they can't physically be there.

4. You can plan fun trips to visit each other.

When you can visit each other, you get to meet the people you've heard so much about and experience all the places they love. You get to have your own college experience and, sometimes, theirs, too.

5. You know they will always be a part of your life.

If you can survive going to school in different states, you've both proven that your friendship will last forever. You both care enough to make time for the other in the midst of exams, social events, and homework.

The long-distance best friend is a forever friend. While I wish I could see mine more, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Just For Laughs-Chicago

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Ilhan Omar Is at Best Foolhardy and at Worst, Yes, Anti-Semitic

Her latest statements seem to lack substance, motivation, or direction.


I find the case of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) to be a curious one.

Specifically, I am referring to the recent controversy over select comments of hers that have generated accusations of anti-Semitism. In all honesty, prior to doing research for this article, I was prepared to come to her defense.

When her comments consisted primarily of "Israeli hypnosis" and monied interest, I thought her wording poor, though not too egregiously deviated from that of most politicians in the current climate of bad behavior. After all, Israeli PACs surely do have a monied interest in the orientation of United States policy in the Middle East. Besides, if President Trump can hypothesize about killing someone in broad daylight and receive no official sanction, I don't see the need for the House of Representatives to hand down reprimand to Rep. Omar for simply saying that Israel may have dealt wrongly, regardless of the veracity of that position.

And yet, seemingly discontent that she had not drawn enough ire, Omar continued firing. She questioned the purported dual loyalty of those Americans who support the state of Israel, while also making claim that the beloved former President Obama is actually not all that different from the reviled current President Trump.

In short, the initial (mostly) innocuous statements about the United States' relation with Israel have been supplanted by increasingly bizarre (and unnecessary) postulations.

Those latest two controversies I find most egregious. Questioning the loyalty of an American citizen for espousing support for a heavily persecuted world religion and in defense of a refuge for practitioners of that self-same religion that has existed as an independent state since 1948, seems, in really no uncertain terms, anti-Semitic.

After all, is it not her own party that so adamantly supports persecuted Palestinians in the very same region? Is it not she and fellow Muslim Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) (who is not without her own streak of anti-Semitic controversy) that have rejected challenges to their own loyalty in being ethnically Somali and Palestinian respectively? Is her claim not akin to the "racist" demands that Obama produce proof of his birth in the United States, and the more concrete racism that asserted he truly was not? And (if you care to reach back so far) can her statement not be equated to suggestions that President John F. Kennedy would be beholden to the Vatican as the first (and to date only) Catholic to hold the presidency?

From what I can discern amongst her commentary, in Omar's mind, the rules that apply to her framework on race, ethnicity, religion, and culture as sacred idols above reproach do not extend to her Jewish contemporaries.

Oh, and may I remind you that over 70% of Jewish Americans voted for Hilary Clinton in 2016.

And yet, beyond even this hypocrisy, is the strange disdain Omar suddenly seems to hold for Barack Obama. Even as a non-Democrat, while I can find reason for this, it is still largely perplexing.

To begin with, I recognize that Ilhan Omar is not your prototypical Democrat. She would scoff at being termed a moderate, and likely would do the same to being labeled a traditional liberal. While she doesn't identify as an outright democratic socialist, one would have to be totally clueless to avoid putting her in the company of those who do, such as Tlaib or Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

As such, she's bound to have some critical evaluations of President Obama, despite the lionizing that the Democratic establishment has and continues to engage in. Two points still stick out to me as obvious incongruities in her statement, however.

First, Obama and Trump are nothing alike. Again, this coming from someone who does not regularly support either, I can at least attempt to claim objectivity. While Obama might not have been faithful to all the demands of the far-left during his presidency, his position on the political spectrum was far from the extreme bent that Trump has ventured into.

Secondly, there is the style of the two men to consider. While Obama had his share of goofs and gaffes (I still think it somewhat juvenile that he often refused to say "radical Islamic terrorism" when referring to Islamist extremists) he pales in comparison to Trump. Every week Trump has his foot caught in a new bear trap. Obama is enormously tame in comparison.

And in addition to all of that, one must beg the question of Omar's timing. With Republicans emboldened by her controversies and House Democratic leadership attempting to soothe the masses, why would Omar strike out at what's largely a popular figure for those that support her most? There seemed no motivation for the commentary and no salient reasoning to back it up, save that Omar wanted to speak her mind.

Such tactlessness is something that'll get you politically killed.

I do not believe Barack Obama was a great president, but that's not entirely important. I don't live in Ilhan Omar's district; her constituents believe Obama was a great president, and that should at least factor into her considerations. Or maybe she did weigh the negative value of such backlash and decided it wouldn't matter? 2019 isn't an election year, after all. Yet, even if that's the case, what's to gain by pissing off your superiors when they're already pissed off at you?

You need to pick your battles wisely in order to win the war, and I'm highly doubtful Omar will win any wars by pitching scorched-earth tactics over such minute concerns.

Her attitude reminds me not only of that of some of her colleagues engaging obtusely and unwisely over subjects that could best be shrugged off (see the AOC media controversies), but also some of my own acquaintances. They believe not only in the myth of their own infallibility, but the opposition bogeyman conjured by their status in a minority or marginalized group. As the logic goes, "I'm a member of x group, and being so gives me the right to decimate anyone who has any inclination to stand against me in any capacity, tit for tat." So much for civility.

I initially came here to defend Rep. Ilhan Omar, and I still do hold to that in certain cases. The opposition to some of her positions is unwarranted. She is allotted the freedom of speech, as are all Americans.

And yet, in certain other cases she has conducted herself brashly, and, one could argue, anti-Semitically.

All I can say is that I am content living adjacent to Minneapolis, not in it. You'd be hard-pressed to find me advocating for leadership that makes manifest in such impolitic fashion.

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