buses for 40 pound kids



buses for 40 pound kids

Hello, at Tim's request, I am posting a question as to how large a child should be before riding a typical (large, full sized) school bus? My daughter is just now at 40 pounds. She rides a 45 minute- 1 hour bus trip each way. The school is only 10 minutes from my house. She loves the bus ride, enjoys her walkman and "reading" her books. Is it acceptable to allow a child of this size on the school bus, or should I be driving her, considering the close proximity of the school? I read a report that buses are designed for kids 40 or 50 pounds or above. I wonder...is it 40 pounds, or is it 50? Any help, opinions, or links would be deeply appreciated. Thanks.



Buses are basically designed for school aged children...


I've been doing quite a lot of research on this topic, and recently led an 8 hour training for Head Start bus drivers. I can safely report that buses are at least 7 times safer than your family car overall, and that includes all passengers under 19. So don't drive your child if she can take the bus.

However, your question really revolves around the recent question of the safest way for pre-school aged children to ride the bus. NHTSA and Head Start have both recently come forth with new guidelines for the transport of preschoolers. The theory is that compartmentilization, the way older children are protected on the bus, doesn't work as well for younger children. Their bodies are so much smaller and lighter, and their ability to sit "in position" is so much less. In some places, pre-school age has been defined as children under 50 pounds, other places refer to children under kindergarten age.

You didn't specify your daughter's age. If she is a light kindergartener, then I'd just go with compartmentilization. Remind her to sit in her seat properly, and make sure that she is seated fully inside the seating compartment, preferably with only two children on her bench (though three very small children sometime fit well on a single bench). Even more importantly (since 3/4 injuries and death occur outside the bus) is to teach her proper rules about entering, exiting and moving around the bus. Check with your school and make sure that they are training the children about this.

If your child is not yet in kindergarten, I recommend that she should be travelling in some sort of additional restraint. At 40 pounds, there aren't that many choices, and most school districts aren't using anything except sometimes belts. For proper protection, she still probably needs some sort of upper body restraint, as well as lower body restraint. Try www.nhtsa.gov for the guidelines. The Britax Laptop is a great choice for heavy (or really average) 3-5 year olds. It holds children 30-65 pounds with only a lap belt. It does require short buckle stalks, which may need to be replaced on your bus. And the bus must have specially reinforced benches that are accepting proper belt systems. So the issues are complex.

I hope this info helps. In the end, remember how very much safer buses are than cars. Buses are the most regulated vehicle on the road today.

Toby, CPS tech


Thanks, Toby

Much appreciated! As they say in the 4-day training; know your limits and if you don't know the answer you can always find someone who does :)


Toby, thanks so much...sorry for the delay

Hi there! I just now got a chance to read your answer to my post. To answer your question, my daughter is just a really light kindergartner. And while I am attempting to allow her to ride the bus rather than being driven, there are some other obstacles in the way. I'm working them out though, which is what I've been so busy with, that I haven't had time to read emails or posts here! Thanks so much for your clear answer. I especially liked the fact that buses are 7 times safer than cars. Any idea where I can cite that fact? I'm presenting some options soon to the school board to improve the safety of busing (currently many of the kids at our non-public school have to be transferred and there is no supervision, and in fact they lost my little one on the third day of school during a transfer. I was horrified, scared and now I'm just really angry about how little attention they pay to the safety of these transfers. If I could cite the source for the bus safety facts, it would back up my rationale as to why I want to use busing, when my child attends a non-public school. No to mention, that I want to be able to stand my ground with the other parents as to why I still bus, even after they lost Melissa!)

Again--thank you so much!


more on buses...

It sounds like the school year has been trying so far. I'm glad that you are sticking with buses. I was tempted to skip it after my daughter was in a very minor bus crash HER third day riding the bus, but with what I know now, I'm glad we didn't.

The statistic, 7 times safer, comes from the deaths per million vehicle miles travelled. The most recent statistics (from 1999 I think) have buses at .2, passenger cars at 1.5, and trucks at 1.3. I can't find the report right now, but I think that is only for passengers under the age of 19.

If you are doing more advocacy work, I would suggest heading over to the nhtsa.gov site and finding their publications lists. They allow you to order a lot of stuff (one report, 50 brochures, stickers, etc.) for free, each time you place an order. I've gotten some great reports on bus safety (including the one with those stats). I got a good kit on bus safety too. Overall bus safety issues focus on loading and unloading times (which seems very pertinent to you) and bus/train crossings. This is where most of the fatalities and injuries are being found, and therefore where most of nhtsa's attention is being focuses. It might help you figure out what is best for your school.

Feel free to e-mail me also if you wish, tobymcadams@sihope.com. Though it is good for other folks to see the conversation.



thanks so much so very much!

wow--I'm going to keep your email handy! You are knowledgeable and helpful. I've been to the nhtsa site when I was shopping for my last car and I found it to be instrumental in aiding my decision. I'll check it out for this too!

I've enjoyed reading your posts and information and I just may need to update you soon!


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