Nanny State alert — Bus seat belts to be mandated

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, moving to solidify his status as the nation’s Nanny-in-Chief, has shifted his focus from using the might of the federal government to outlaw texting while driving, to now require that commercial buses be outfitted with lap-shoulder safety belts.  Never content to let the marketplace determine if consumers care sufficiently about a safety item to use their buying power to force manufacturers to incorporate those features in their products, Uncle Sam is once again forcing the marketplace to adhere to its dictates.  In this instance, LaHood is citing the fact that in an average year there are 19 (that’s correct, 19, one-nine, only) fatalities involving passengers on commercial motorcoaches, as the “crisis” necessitating this federal mandate.  Initially, the regulation will apply only to new motorcoaches, but once the door is opened, it will be only a matter of time before mission creep sets in and the mandate is expanded.

The pattern is well known.  Once the feds mandate a safety device for one category of product, the requirement is then applied to smaller and smaller categories of the product.  It won’t therefore be long before all types and sizes of buses will be required to install the lap-shoulder belt devices.  As usual, consumers will be expected to pay for the bus companies and manufacturers to produce and install these devices. 

Whether anyone will use the belts once installed is another thing; but one can presume Nanny LaHood (or his successor) will find a solution for that crisis — mandate that bus passengers wear the belts at all times or face a fine.  Isn’t it great to live in a free country?

31 comments Add your comment

Karl Marx

August 18th, 2010
6:42 am

And the State Republicans will cave in as they did with pick up’s and pass a law mandating them to receive some small pittance of funding from the Imperial Federal Government. The so called small government and low tax party, the Republicans, should be shown the door and booted out of office. They don’t deserve to be reelected in this state.

Fred Smith

August 18th, 2010
7:36 am

Huge expense for tiny gains. Would I wear one? Yes. But if you’ve seen the recreations of accidents of this nature, you’re just as likely to be killed by the richocheting cannonballs of dead bodies flying around the interior as you are by getting tossed around yourself.


August 18th, 2010
8:15 am

The “average” citizen can’t keep paying for all of these “security and safety” measures. It defies common sense. There are simply some risks in life we must accept, otherwise we will end up with the most boring, rote, and mindless society. Did the Pilgrims require seatbelts on the Mayflower? No, and they still managed to cross the Atlantic. By definition, I’d now have to wear a seat belt from Atlanta to Athens.


August 18th, 2010
9:13 am

This is a bs way to spend money. Now, about seatbelts on busses–maybe school busses. The driver might be a lot safer if the seats had those lock down devices they install on roller coasters. Given the caliber of a lot of kids today, I don’t think I would drive a school bus unless they allowed me to be armed.


August 18th, 2010
9:20 am

In times like these, with all that is going on in the area and the country, this is what you author as an issue of priority? C’mon Bob, the Right s.o.p. is “when avoiding discussion of a real issue, do your best to divide, insult, denigrate and personally attack any nay-sayers, thereby pandering to emotion rather than logic”. I’m not even sure this will raise the hackles of our drama-loving hate-professing separatist self-involved voting majority… With our love of hate and divisionist attitudes dominating the mindset it shouldn’t be difficult for you to further incite personal ignorance and distrust amongst we readers with an issue that at least appears to be relevant today…


August 18th, 2010
9:24 am

If I drive in my personal vehicle and didn’t require my children or friends to put on a seat belt; you idiots would expect me to serve jail time and/or pay a fine. I’m required to pay car insurance; just incase I have an accident and do bodily harm to someone elses life, limb or property. However, you don’t believe that commercial and school buses should be required to follow the same laws?

There area a whole lot of laws that we are required to do that is beneficial to us and others; such as seat belts and car insurance. What do you think makes a commercial or school bus, less accident prone?

Saint Joan

August 18th, 2010
10:10 am

Who is going to clean the nasty things between passengers? I’m going through a gallon of Purel a day as it is.

john k

August 18th, 2010
10:14 am

Desperate to make amends for your lemonade stand idiocy, Bob?


August 18th, 2010
10:15 am

This is a physics problem, not a political or “fairness” problem. The only time seat belts are going to be really helpful to bus passenger is if the bus hits something of similar mass. They won’t help much if the bus hits a car or a car hits the bus. Given the cost and the potential benefit, we have better places to invest in highway safety.

I was on a GCT Orion Express bus that got T-boned by a Jeep Cherokee one morning. It shredded the Jeep. We felt a bump similar to when the bus cuts a corner and the rear tire rides up on the curb.

Send LaHood back to high school physics class!


August 18th, 2010
10:29 am

I was in a school bus accident that hit a cement mixer head on…a couple kids went through the windshield, several more had cuts and even more were banged up. All of them would have been better off had they been using seat belts. I’ve got to strap my kids in whenever I drive (and I would anyway because I’m a responsible parent), but that isn’t even an option when they’re on a school bus.


August 18th, 2010
10:34 am

That’s not always true Don. I was in another school bus accident where a pick-up hit us in the back. The pick-up was crushed in the front and the bus barely had scratches on the back bumper. We could feel we were hit, but it wasn’t that bad. However, there was a little girl with a busted nose…doesn’t take much to throw a small child into the seat in front of her.

Redneck Convert (R--and proud of it)

August 18th, 2010
10:51 am

Well, if I want to get bounced around like a ping pong ball on a bus and maybe throwed thru the windshield, it ought to be my right to do it. What’s this world coming to when a person can’t even get hisself kilt or hurt real bad? I’m going to bring this up at the next Tea Party rally. Guvmint’s just went too far this time.


August 18th, 2010
11:10 am

Oh no! Not seat belts on buses! Really Bob? You’re complaining about this?


August 18th, 2010
11:17 am

I opposed the original seat belt law here in Georgia on the idea that if someone is stupid and wants to have more chance of getting killed or getting their children killed in an accident, that is their business. They made the kids, so they should have the right to get them killed. But insurance companies should have the right to charge people who don’t have air bags or similar safety devices in their cars an exorbitant rate to make up for the extra costs. Ditto with health insurance, although I have no idea how to charge health insurace rates based on whether or not you buckle up.

barking frog

August 18th, 2010
11:23 am

Should be required for ALL buses, but baby
in the back seat with mommy driving is


August 18th, 2010
11:23 am

Talk about “phoning it in”, Bob. Put some effort into choosing a worthy topic dude. Your columns have been “copy and paste” from Fox for quite a while now, but I don’t think even they would pick this up and run with it. You feelin’ OK Bob?

[...] congressman Bob Barr (R-Ga.) rails against Dept. of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in his latest column for “moving to solidify his status as the nation’s Nanny-in-Chief.” LaHood is [...]


August 18th, 2010
11:41 am

Yes, this nanny state business is a problem. It was all downhill once they started putting limits on how much we could drink and still drive. I’m a much better driver when I’m shizzfaced! There’s less tension, and not in as big a hurry as usual when those idiots in front of me are doing the nanny-state speed limit! In the interest of freedom, I am frequently required to go around those idiots on the sidewalks or pass them in the oncoming lane. What an inconvenience! If I smash into somebody’s wife and kids, and send their bloodied little corpses flying all over the pavement, it will the the nanny state’s fault for imposing limits in the first place!

Also, I agree with Neal Boortz: It is “in the best interests of the children” to do away with the flashing lights and stop signs on school buses. Little ones should learn early to dodge fast-moving Chevys, or remove themselves from the gene pool early, before the parents get too attached. We only hurt the children by trying to save them, stoooopid nanny state!


August 18th, 2010
12:30 pm

Seatbelts for school buses yes.
Enforcement on a city bus might be tough. Do you kick the passenger off who refuses to wear one (assuming they agree to get off), or delay the bus waiting for a Police officer to come deal with the person refusing to wear the belt.

Dr. Pangloss

August 18th, 2010
1:12 pm

Gee, Bob, can you perform your excretory functions without carping about the nanny state?

Safety equipment on a motor vehicle. What an encroachment on our liberty.

BTW, the government said in December there were 31,110 auto fatalities during the first 10 months of 2008, a 9.8 percent decline over the same period in 2007, when there were 34,502 fatalities.

Remember when it was around 40,000 a year? Your nanny state at work.


August 18th, 2010
1:23 pm

Don,t play, don,t pay, don,t ride the bus if you don,t like it, just like your house payments,one way or another force change.


August 18th, 2010
2:18 pm

Why give a motercyclist a break ?


August 18th, 2010
2:22 pm

Yeah, the government sucks. I can’t even keep a bengal tiger in my yard as a pet. I should be able to do that. Big government blows.


August 19th, 2010
1:34 pm

i used to think that the helmut laws were a bad idea. I mean, if some moron wants to go fast on a motorcycle with no helmut, its just one less moron. However, upon further contemplation, it occurs to me that the police who have to drive to some widow’s house and break the news should be protected too and its not fair to them, so I say strap a helmut on and buckle up idiots.


August 19th, 2010
3:41 pm

Imno, its helmet.

Dr. Pangloss

August 19th, 2010
4:03 pm

“Helmut” would be some German guy.

But if you have something to protect, you should wear a helmet.

Keep up the good fight!

August 19th, 2010
5:55 pm

Ahh yes…another paranoid Barr post. Now Bob, how do the consumers “decide”? They buy a ticket on the bus, who knows whether it has seat belts or not? Equipment can be substituted.

This is the precise role of government to set standards and minimums. Minimum safety is not a competitive item. But of course, if you follow your logic to its ultimate conclusion, why have any required safety devices? Why have redundant braking systems? And when those buses have accidents, who takes care of the injured who may require care for life? And just ask the parents of those Ohio baseball players who died if a seatbelt would have been required and saved your child’s life, what is it worth? Who makes the decision for the team too — the school, the coach, each parent, the students? Who gets to play God?

Providing a system phased in over time as equipment is replaced is a proven effective model but FEAR right Bob?

Don't Forget

August 19th, 2010
7:03 pm

Republicans Block Bill to Aid Small BusinessBy DAVID M. HERSZENHORN
WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans on Thursday rejected a bill to aid small businesses with expanded loan programs and tax breaks, in a procedural blockade that underscored how fiercely determined the party’s leaders are to deny Democrats any further legislative accomplishments ahead of November’s midterm elections.

The measure, championed by Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, had the backing of some of the Republican Party’s most reliable business allies, including the United States Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business. Several Republican lawmakers also helped write it.

But Republican leaders filibustered after fighting for days with Democrats over the number of amendments they would be able to offer. A last-ditch offer by Democrats to allow three was refused by the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

People are hurting out there and all the republicans can do is seek political gain. Pathetic!


August 20th, 2010
12:08 pm

There are buses being made with seatbelts, and if consumers want them, they will buy them. I agree with Bob, though, we don’t need government forcing us to have to pay for measures we don’t want.

Besides which, haven’t there been studies done that show seatbelts add little to no extra safety over no seatbelts in schoolbuses because of the size of the children, the seats, the padding, and the type of accidents buses usually get in to? It would be nice to see that sort of information rather than a bunch of people who have no clue saying that obviously seatbelts are needed even though we have no facts to support our claim!

William in Lithonia

August 31st, 2010
10:23 pm

I think that cars should be programed not to hit each other. We have the technology to save 40 thousand lives a year and prevent 3 million injuries that burden our health insurance premiums worse than any government tax.

Adaptive cruise control.
Anti-acceleration (to stop a car from tailgaiting)
Automatic brakes
Lane Control (keeping cars within the lane)
Stabilization control (mandated now and projected to save 10,000 lives a year)
Adjustable speed control (limiting the cars speed to the speed on the road – reading from GPS maps and/or chips in the road.)

Libertiarians don’t believe in the force of Government.

Libertarians don’t recognize the forces that existed before our democratic government.

Libertarians are selling us out to corporations or the power of bigoted religions, or even kings and slave drivers, by eliminating the only organization that can mitigate the other powers on Earth, our Democratic Republic.

William in Lithonia

August 31st, 2010
10:32 pm

America needs jobs.

The unemployment rate is highest in the very groups that could build a clean energy infrastructure to make America energy independent and repair the infrastructure that is in need of repair.

Republicans claim a Depression is not the time for raising taxes on the top 2% (who don’t invest when no one has money to buy anything) and is not a time for government spending.

Republicans are wrong on both accounts as Franklin Roosevelt proved when his policies got us out of the first great depression caused by Republican tax cuts and deregulation.

President Roosevelt raised the top tax rate to 90% and initiated massive government spending (including World War II, the GI Bill, regulation of banks, infrastructure spending, and a social safety net.) He won world war II and created the greatest middle class in history out of the Great Depression like a Phoenix rising from the Republican deregulation ashes.

America went from importing 24% of our oil to importing over 65% in the past 40 years.

American dependencey on foriegn energy is one of our biggest national security risks. Even worse now than during the Oil embargo of the 1970’s.

America uses a lot of oil. Every day 85 million barrels of oil are produced around the world. And 21 million of those are used here in the United States.

That’s 25% of the world’s oil demand. Used by just 4% of the world’s population.

Can’t we just produce more oil?

Consider this: America imports 12 million barrels a day, and Saudi Arabia only produces 9 million a day. Is there really more undiscovered oil here than in all of Saudi Arabia?

There are several pillars to the Pickens Plan:

Create millions of new jobs by building out the capacity to generate up to 22 percent of our electricity from wind. And adding to that with additional solar generation capacity;
Building a 21st century backbone electrical transmission grid;
Providing incentives for homeowners and the owners of commercial buildings to upgrade their insulation and other energy saving options;
and Using America’s natural gas to replace imported oil as a transportation fuel in addition to its other uses in power generation, chemicals, etc.

New jobs from renewable energy and conservation.

Any discussion of alternatives should begin with the 2007 Department of Energy study showing that building out our wind capacity in the Great Plains – from northern Texas to the Canadian border – would produce 138,000 new jobs in the first year, and more than 3.4 million new jobs over a ten-year period, while also producing as much as 20 percent of our needed electricity.

Building out solar energy in the Southwest from western Texas to California would add to the boom of new jobs and provide more of our growing electrical needs – doing so through economically viable, clean, renewable sources.

To move that electricity from where it is being produced to where it is needed will require an upgrade to our national electric grid. A 21st century transmission grid which will, as technology continues to develop, deliver power where it is needed, when it is needed, in the direction that it is needed, will be the modern equivalent of building the Interstate Highway System in the 1950’s.

Beyond that, tremendous improvements in electricity use can be made by creating incentives for owners of homes and commercial buildings to retrofit their spaces with proper insulation. Studies show that a significant upgrading of insulation would save the equivalent of one million barrels of oil per day in energy by cutting down on both air conditioning costs in warm weather and heating costs in winter.

A domestic fuel to free us from foreign oil.

The Honda Civic GX Natural Gas Vehicle is the cleanest internal-combustion vehicle in the world according to the EPA.

Conserving and harnessing renewable forms of electricity not only has incredible economic benefits, but is also a crucial piece of the oil dependence puzzle. We should continue to pursue the promise of electric or hydrogen powered vehicles, but America needs to address transportation fuel today. Fortunately, we are blessed with an abundance of clean, cheap, domestic natural gas.

Currently, domestic natural gas is primarily used to generate electricity. It has the advantage of being cheap and significantly cleaner than coal, but this is not the only use of our natural gas resources.

By aggressively moving to shift America’s car, light duty and heavy truck fleets from imported gasoline and diesel to domestic natural gas we can lower our need for foreign oil – helping President Obama reach his goal of zero oil imports from the Middle East within ten years.

Nearly 33% of every barrel of oil we import is used by 18-wheelers moving goods around and across the country by burning imported diesel. An over-the-road truck cannot be moved using current battery technology. Fleet vehicles like buses, taxis, express delivery trucks, and municipal and utility vehicles (any vehicle which returns to the “barn” each night where refueling is a simple matter) should be replaced by vehicles running on clean, cheap, domestic natural gas rather than
imported gasoline or diesel fuel.

The Obama Biden comprehensive New Energy for America plan will:

Provide short term relief to American families facing pain at the pump
Help create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future.
Within 10 years save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela combined
Put 1 million Plug In Hybrid cars – cars that can get up to 150 miles per gallon – on the road by 2015, cars that we will work to make sure are built here in America
Ensure 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025
Implement an economy wide cap and trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050

Prior to 1950 the U.S. had absolute energy independence. In 1950 the USA was producing over 50 percent of the world’s oil, enough for all of its own needs with plenty left over for exports. But the post World War II U.S. economic boom eventually created demand for more oil than U.S. wells could produce.

Between 1950 and 1973 (the year of the embargo) U.S. oil imports had grown from near zero to about 32 percent of U.S. oil consumption. By 1994, the U.S. was importing more oil than it produced. In 2010, oil imports will provide about 60 percent of all oil consumed in the USA.

The 1973 oil embargo had exposed the harsh reality that America was dangerously dependent on imported oil. The energy independence policies of Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter had demonstrated that America can achieve strategic energy independence through political will and legislative action.

It took nearly ten years for U.S. energy independence policies to take effect and reverse the trend of growing oil dependence, but the results were worth the effort.

For a brief period between 1982 and 1985 U.S. oil imports averaged less than 30% of total U.S. oil consumption.

Developing alternative energy sources (primarily coal, nuclear and natural gas to replace fuel oil used for heating and electricity generation) and keeping oil imports below 30% of total oil consumption had broken the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and ultimately exposed OPEC’s vulnerability: dependence on oil money.

The USA enjoyed strategic energy independence between 1982 and 1985.

But then, in 1986 U.S. oil imports began to increase again. Why?

By July 1986 the price of oil had fallen below $9 per barrel. Ronald Reagan was then President of the United States.

President Reagan had abandoned the energy independence policies of his predecessors in favor of a free market policy, where private industry would provide all of America’s energy needs without government interference.

The gap between the wealthiest Americans and middle- and working-class Americans has more than tripled in the past three decades, according to a June 25, 2010 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Since 1980, we’ve lost half our manufacturing jobs. We’ve lost 10 million manufacturing jobs since job protecting tariffs were cut.

Imports are $1.563 trillion (2009 est.) $2.117 trillion (2008 est.)

Imports – commodities:
agricultural products 4.9%, industrial supplies 32.9% (crude oil 8.2%), capital goods 30.4% (computers, telecommunications equipment, motor vehicle parts, office machines, electric power machinery), consumer goods 31.8% (automobiles, clothing, medicines, furniture, toys)

March 20, 2003 the price of oil was $26 per barrel. Five years later, March 20, 2008 the price of oil had risen to $100 per barrel. Then, during July of 2008 the price of oil hit $147 per barrel, with a weekly average of $130.

From September 2007 through October 2008, the world economy was rocked by the unprecedented transfer of more than one trillion dollars from European, Asian and American economies into Middle East national treasuries in exchange for oil.

Between 2003 and the summer of 2008 the price of oil quadrupled because of market fears. War in the Middle East and threat of a nuclear armed Iran intensified worldwide fear of an oil supply interruption — fear of a global oil shortage produced the market speculation responsible for pushing oil prices to $147 per barrel during the summer of 2008.

Fear of a global oil shortage added a “fear premium” to the cost of oil, inflating the price of oil on the world market by over two trillion dollars per year. The increased cost of oil caused over two trillion dollars to be taken out of consumers’ pockets worldwide. Two trillion dollars that was no longer available for buying other products and services. Global business stalled, jobs were cut, and consumers stopped spending.

The dramatic rise and fall of worldwide oil prices exposed the insidious influence of unregulated commodity speculation. Clandestine trading on the world commodity market caused the price of oil to spike to a level that would otherwise only result from a terrorist attack on a major oil production facility or supply line.

In addition to putting our security in the hands of potentially unfriendly and unstable foreign nations, we spent $475 billion on foreign oil in 2008 alone. That’s money taken out of our economy and sent to foreign nations, and it will continue to drain the life from our economy for as long as we fail to stop the bleeding.

Projected over the next 10 years the cost will be $10 trillion – it will be the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind.

August 17, 2010:

Less than a High school diploma, 25 or older: 15% unemployment.

High school graduates, no college, 25 or older: 10% unemployment.

Some College or Associate Degree, 25 or older: 8% unemployment.

Bachelors degree and higher, 25 or older: 5% unemployment.

America needs jobs.

The unemployment rate is highest in the very groups that could build a clean energy infrastructure to make America energy independent and repair the infrastructure that is in need of repair.

Republicans claim a Depression is not the time for raising taxes on the top 2% (who don’t invest when no one has money to buy anything) and is not a time for government spending.

Republicans are wrong on both accounts as Franklin Roosevelt proved when his policies got us out of the first great depression caused by Republican tax cuts and deregulation.

President Roosevelt raised the top tax rate to 90% and initiated massive government spending (including World War II, the GI Bill, regulation of banks, infrastructure spending, and a social safety net.) He won world war II and created the greatest middle class in history out of the Great Depression like a Phoenix rising from the Republican deregulation ashes.

We can solve our economic problems, our lack of jobs, by solving our energy dependence and infrastructure problems and restrict the necessary spending to products made in America.