Seat belts on tour buses

I couldn’t help but notice the irony.

On Tuesday night we all hopped on a motorcoach (tour bus) for the 45-minute drive from Ellicott City to Baltimore for dinner at a restaurant on the harbor. As our team of safety-conscious faculty and students settled in for the drive, very few of us (myself included) bothered to put on our seat belts. Sure, we probably all wear them when we ride in normal cars, but tour buses are monstrous vehicles, so we’re immune from traffic injuries, right?

I was sitting next to Lua, our classmate from Ireland, and she did put on her seat belt. What a brazen challenge to my delusion of immortality! Lua made me second-guess myself, and for a few agonizing seconds I debated following her example. But then I decided, “hey, it must be just a goofy Irish thing. I’m an American, and I’m not gonna buckle my seat belt.”

But I did buckle up the next day. You see, it doesn’t matter how safe we feel on tour buses. We are deluding ourselves. I found articles this morning by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Admin.) and Seattle Times and here are some facts:

  • On average, 21 motorcoach and large bus occupants are killed and 7,934 are injured annually in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S., according to NHTSA data. Requiring seat belts could reduce fatalities by up to 44 percent and reduce the number of moderate to severe injuries by up to 45 percent.
  • About 50% of all motor coach fatalities are the result of rollovers, and about 70% of those killed in rollover accidents were ejected from the bus
  • In Nov 2013 the NHTSA issued a new rule requiring all new coaches to have lap and shoulder seat belts for the driver and all passenger seats

I think we should all start wearing seat belts on tour buses. Yes, the likelihood of an adverse outcome is extremely small. But I don’t want any of us to be a statistic. WWCHD? What would Cliff Hughes do? Dave’s friend Cliff would advise us to be mindful of this important safety issue, and to take the necessary precautions to protect ourselves.

I also think there is a health care lesson here. Like tour buses, hospitals are places that encourage people to slip into a delusion of safety. It’s important for us to be mindful about safety concerns in both situations.

Thank you Lua. I am so grateful for this summer camp, for Paul and John’s books, and for being surrounded by bright thoughtful summer campers. My worldview is changing.