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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


It doesn’t make sense

Conclusions derived from analyzing driving topics are not always definitive.  In fact, there is sometimes only one conclusion on a topic:  It doesn’t make sense.

One of those instances regards the non-existence of school bus seat belts.  On an airplane? Yes.  In a car or truck?  Absolutely.  But riding a bus brings one back to the 1950s, where a sudden stop, wild turn or rollover will have occupants bouncing about like bingo balls in a mixing cage.

And the lack of belts is not only a glaring omission in school buses, since I have not seen them in highway or city buses either.  I’ve heard it argued that installing belts would add greatly to the cost of a bus.  That logic seems like a faulty causal factor for omission, since, besides belts, cars and trucks have added multiple airbags to vehicles adding thousands of dollars to the price of each one.

There are likely fewer bus deaths per occupants carried and passenger miles covered compared to automobiles, but I’m certain that those statistics would be insignificant to anyone who has lost a loved one in a bus accident.  Being thrown about within a vehicle or being ejected from it generally increases injury proneness.

I also place a degree of “it doesn’t make sense” sentiment on the mass installation of air bags in cars and trucks.  There is no argument that they are mainly designed to reduce head injuries in automobiles.  Crash testing and actual crash data show that ninety percent of traffic deaths occur due to head injuries sustained when a head comes into contact with an object inside the vehicle.

There are air bags to the side of occupants’ heads and even between their heads to keep them from hitting one another during crashes.  This makes me wonder why the use of helmets for drivers and passengers has never been proposed. 

I certainly don’t wish to wear a helmet in my car, but I also may not be happy paying an extra $10,000 for having a dozen airbags onboard.  It strikes me as odd that so many are in agreement that bicyclists and motorcyclists should wear helmets, but donning one in an automobile seems preposterous.

Again, one’s head is exposed to the elements when on a two-wheeler, but the exposure to hard objects within an enclosed vehicle is equally foreboding.  Actually, only around fifty percent of deaths on bicycles and motorcycles occur from head injuries — major body trauma is more common in those tragedies.

Another quizzical quandary is why cars are not governed to maximum speed limits.  I suspect one qualifying factor is that over 112,000 speeding tickets are issued each day.  This translates to a huge daily take of revenue for various city and state coffers.

Autonomous cars will obey traffic laws, including posted maximum speed limits, so that source of revenue may be endangered.  Maybe hackers will figure out a way to make their cars go faster and there will be an astronomical fine for that.

Seat belts have proved to be a worthy lifesaver, yet bus riders are exempt from that safety feature.  Helmets would save many lives more efficiently than high-cost airbags, but no one even considers their use.  Governors would end freeway speeding, but they are not even proposed.

To me, it doesn’t make sense.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at