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Should School Buses Have Seat Belts?


Arts & Humanities
--Language Arts
--Family Life
Social Studies
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Grades 2-up

News Content

Six states require school buses to have seat belts, but the debate is on in many other states.

Anticipation Guide

You might share the video above with students. This Embrace Life" video has gone viral on YouTube; it has been viewed nearly 3 million times. After sharing the video, ask students what they feel is the videos primary message. (In the video, a car crash scenario is simulated by a father, mother, and daughter. The mother and daughter use their arms to represent the seat belt and shoulder harness that saves their husband/father when a car crash occurs.) Ask students if the video is a good way to drive home the importance of wearing seat belts. Many people think this video serves as a powerful reminder without scaring people. They say it is unlike the heavy-handed approaches -- for example, scaring people with a lot of warnings and statistics -- that are often used. Do your students agree?

News Words

Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: injuries, require, embankment, package, attempt, and statistics. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • After the blizzard passed, neighborhood kids transformed a nearby _____ into a sledding hill. (embankment)
  • In order to perfect the skateboard stunt, Katy had to _____ it over and over again. (attempt)
  • The Census will collect _____ about the people living in our neighborhood and state. (statistics)
  • Little League officials _____ players to be at least 9 years old. (require)
  • That _____ was wrapped in so much tape that it took ten minutes to open it. (package)
  • Fortunately, there were no _____ in the car crash that occurred at the corner of Main and Elm. (injuries)

    Read the News

    Click for a printable version of this weeks news story Should School Buses Have Seat Belts?.

    Reading the News

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

    Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

    Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.

    Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

    Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

    More Facts to Share

    Seat belts have been required on passenger cars since 1968. Only one state -- New Hampshire -- does not currently have a law that requires passenger car drivers and passengers to buckle up. Many states have used the successful "Click It or Ticket" program to help drive home the importance of buckling up before driving.

    Only six states have passed laws that require seat belts in school buses. New York was the first state to pass a seat belt law for school buses. Other states with such laws are New Jersey, California, Florida, Texas, and Louisiana. A few school districts across the country have installed seat belts on their buses without a state law that requires it.

    After a recent school bus fatality, Connecticut State Representative Tony Guerrera introduced a bill that would mandate the installation of lap and shoulder seat belts (three-point safety restraint systems) in Connecticut school buses by January 2011. "Every day, we put our children on a school bus, and the school bus drivers, they have seat belts," Guerrera told ABC News. "You and I travel to work in vehicles that have seat belts and airbags. But for some reason, when it comes to the children, we don't have a mechanism in place"

    According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), school buses are among the safest forms of transportation and school bus carriers have a remarkable safety record. According to NHTSA reports, large school buses are heavier and distribute crash forces differently than other vehicles; crash forces experienced by occupants of buses are much less than those experienced by occupants of passenger cars, light trucks, or vans. NHTSA suggests the best way to provide crash protection to passengers of large school buses is through a concept called compartmentalization," which provides crash protection via strong, closely-spaced seats with energy-absorbing seat backs.

    Installing seat belts on school buses could cost $7,000 to $11,000 per bus, NHTSA officials say. They worry about enforcement of such laws, too. Would a driver have to stop the bus, get up from his or her seat, and perform a seat-belt check? In addition, some people fear that seat belts could trap" students in dangerous evacuation situations.

    Seat belt proponents say buckling up is the best way to truly protect riders. They point to one company, IMMI, which sells an integrated seating system that lets drivers know which seat belts are not properly buckled. New systems such as these are being installed on all new Greyhound buses, a company official says.

    Use the News

    Print out this weeks Use the News printable activity page for students. Or use the questions on that page to check student comprehension.

    Use the News: Answer Key
    Reading Comprehension: Making a Case. 1. NI, 2. NI, 3. NI, 4. I, 5. NI, 6. NI, 7. I, 8. I, 9. NI, 10. I.
    Language Practice: Word Meaning. 1.b, 2.d, 3.b, 4.c.
    Reading Comprehension: Main Idea. b -- Some people say seat belts are needed on school buses, but others say they arent.


    Use the Use the News comprehension check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News question on the news story page.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.3 Evaluation Strategies
    NL-ENG.K-12.4 Communication Skills
    NL-ENG.K-12.5 Communication Strategies
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    GRADES K - 4
    NPH-H.K-4.1 Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
    NPH-H.K-4.3 Reducing Health Risks
    NPH-H.K-4.7 Health Advocacy
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NPH-H.5-8.1 Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
    NPH-H.5-8.3 Reducing Health Risks
    NPH-H.5-8.7 Health Advocacy
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NPH-H.9-12.1 Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
    NPH-H.9-12.3 Reducing Health Risks
    NPH-H.9-12.7 Health Advocacy

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
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