August signals the end of summer but also the start of the school year. With it many yellow school buses will be rolling on area streets. The American School Bus Council (ASBC) states there is approximately 480,000 buses on the roads carrying approximately 53% of kindergarten thru grade-12 students each day.
With all of these buses on the road, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that school buses annually keep 17.3 million cars off the roads surrounding schools each morning. This is an important point as “children are at the greatest risk when they are getting on or off the school bus.” From 2003 to 2012, “174 school age children died in school-transportation-related crashes, 55 occupants of school transportation vehicles and 119 were pedestrians”, based on the Traffic Safety Facts report updated June 2014.
Those big yellow school buses are designed “to be safer than passenger vehicles in avoiding crashes and preventing injury” according to the American School Bus Council. Unfortunately, of the school-transportation-related injuries, the majority of the injuries were outside of the school bus. Looking at this chart from the NHTSA the blue bar shows how from 2003-2012 for nearly each age range the number of fatalities in a school-transportation-related crash was double for pedestrians vs. the school bus occupants. Care should be taken by drivers when around school buses as children are not always alert to other vehicles. The well trained school transportation driver is no match for a car ignoring the bright color and stop sign arm.
Children are even safer on buses, due the final rule was passed on safety belts in school buses on October 21, 2008. “This final rule requires new school buses of 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) or less gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) (”small school buses”) to have lap/shoulder belts in lieu of the lap belts currently required.” The rule also raises the seat back from 20 inches to 24 inches with quick releases and other safety features for new school buses manufactured on or after October 21, 2011.
The full text of the final rule can be accessed from the Illinois State Board of Education website.
For more information and statistics related to school bus accidents, visit the NHTSA’s specialized school bus website here
No one likes to think of school bus accidents and children. Unfortunately, when school transportation related injuries occur, liability is not always clear. School buses are operated by government agencies and local districts.
Consulting with our experienced attorneys can help accident victims and their loved ones determine if a claim should be filed.
Contact us at: (312) 782-4600 or online.