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Bus Accidents

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 22, 2015

School buses are the most frequently used form of mass transit in the United States. They provide nearly 9 million students transportation every year. This is approximately twice as many passenger trips as are provided by other commercial transit buses across the nation. Almost half a million school busses transport around 24 million students to and from school and extracurricular activities every school day.

When school buses are in accidents, they can cause death or great bodily injury. From 1990 through 2008, there were 407,000 fatal traffic accidents in the United States. Of those accidents, school bus accidents account for roughly one third of the deaths.

National school bus accident statistics define a school bus related crash as one that directly or indirectly involves a school bus-type vehicle, or a vehicle functioning as a school bus by transporting students to and from school related activities.

According to official bus accident statistics, 1,450 people have been killed in school bus related accidents since 1990. Sixty-seven percent of people who died in these accidents were occupants of the other vehicles involved in collisions with school buses. Twenty-five percent were cyclists or pedestrians and 9 percent were passengers in the school bus themselves. Most school-aged pedestrians killed in accidents with school buses died in accidents occurring between three and four o'clock in the afternoon. The hour between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. was the second-most-common time for these types of accidents.

In addition to school bus related fatalities, many people are injured in accidents with school buses every year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), over the past 11 years, school bus accidents have resulted in approximately 1,000 incapacitating injuries and more than 7,000 non-incapacitating injuries.

These school bus related injury accidents have prompted recent movements to put seatbelts in school buses. Currently, very few school buses are equipped with seatbelts for passengers.

The National PTA and the American Academy of Pediatrics are in favor of equipping all large school buses with seat belts. However, the NHTSA and the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) are not convinced that seat belts would increase passenger safety on busses. The president of NAPT says that seat belts in cars and lap belts on school buses present very different safety issues. Proponents of school bus seat belts say that, if a crash occurs, the probability of death or severe injury would be reduced with seat belts. They also say that seat belt usage improves passenger behavior, thus reducing driver distraction. They say that seat belts protect against injuries in case of rollover and side impact crashes. Finally, proponents say the cost of installing seat belts is minimal.

Opponents disagree, saying that seat belts in school buses are not only unnecessary but can also be hazardous. They cite facts that more people are killed around school buses, for instance while walking to and from school, than while inside buses. They say also that school buses are designed with safety in mind. They are heavier and experience less crash force than smaller cars and trucks. School buses also have high padded seats that are specifically constructed to absorb shock in an accident. Opponents claim there is no data that conclusively proves seatbelts in buses would reduce injury or fatalities and finally, say that money spent on seat belt installation would be better used on other safety measures. Despite the debate, according to the National Safety Council, school buses are 172 times safer than a family car, 8 times safer than passenger trains, 4 times safer than public buses, and 8 times safer than commercial airlines.

If you have been injured in an accident involving a school bus, you should immediately contact Allan S. Field. Our office has handled complicated vehicle accident cases with the best results possible for his clients.