Summer is winding down, and students of all ages are heading back to school again. Parents and students alike are gathering supplies, picking out their first day of school outfits, and coordinating school transport for kids to make sure everyone gets where they need to be.
As exciting as it can be for parents to watch their children board the school bus for the very first time, watching your child ride away on a big yellow bus can bring a lot of anxiety too.
While parents can’t prevent every accident from happening, following a few simple tips can help ensure that your child is as safe as possible when he or she rides the bus to start a new school year.
Bus Accidents – Why Are They Different and Can They Be Prevented?
When you think about it, buses seem almost inherently more dangerous than riding in a private vehicle. With the capacity to carry between 40 and 70 rowdy kids, it’s easy to imagine how a driver could be distracted, or how even a small accident could injure a large number of people.
On top of carrying more passengers, most buses don’t have seat belts and their tall design makes them more susceptible to tipping and roll overs. While buses absorb the force of a collision differently than private vehicles, it’s not hard to see how a bus accident, especially one involving school children, can be a recipe for disaster.
School Buses – a Different Type of Safety
However, although buses may not have the same safety features riders have come to expect from cars, research shows that they are still statistically safer than private vehicles.
Even though buses are involved in as many as 63,000 accidents each year, when compared with private vehicle accident statistics, studies show that students are up to 70 times more likely to get to school safely when they take a school bus. Similarly, even though urban teens take five times the amount of bus trips than other people, public transportation accident statistics show that they have half the chance of being involved in a fatal accident because they are driving so much less.
While bus travel may be statistically safer than private vehicles, the danger of an accident is always present.
Not only can drivers easily be distracted, but vehicle maintenance, road conditions, and other drivers will always pose a risk. When a bus accident does occur, riders can suffer from soft-tissue neck and back injuries that are common in car accidents, as well as head injuries and broken bones caused by impacting inside the bus.
Although fatalities are rare, according to the Transportation Research Board, an average of 20 children perish each year in bus-related accidents.
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School Bus Safety – How Parents and Riders Can Minimize the Risk
There are several steps parents and students can take to prevent an accident, and it starts before a child gets on the bus. Because so many bus accidents happen while a child is boarding the bus, it is especially crucial to make sure your child knows these important bus safety tips:
At the Bus Stop
- Make sure your child’s bus stop is in a safe, visible location.
- Try to arrive early so kids aren’t running and distracted trying to catch the bus.
- Review sidewalk safety rules with your child often, reminding them to stay out of the road and always be on the lookout for vehicles.
Boarding the Bus
- When boarding the bus, make sure kids look both ways before entering the road. The same goes for when children are exiting the bus after school and are especially excited to be home.
- Children and parents should always verify that the flashing stop lights are being used before they board.
- If your child drops something while boarding the bus, he or she shouldn’t pick it up but should keep boarding the bus and notify the driver instead.
On the Bus
- Talk with your child about not distracting the bus driver. Although a student may need to talk to the driver for several reasons, understanding how to reduce distraction to the driver is important.
- Make sure you and your child are familiar with your school’s or bus’s policy on cell phones and tablets.
- Bullying can happen on the bus as well, so have a conversation with your child about what they should do if someone bullies them or if they witness an incident.
When Bus Accidents Happen, Liability Can Be a Problem
If a bus accident occurs, there are a number of factors that could be to blame. In the case of driver distraction, liability may be clear and injured riders can make a claim against the driver and his insurer.
However, making a claim against the driver’s employer may get complicated when that employer is the government or a school district who may be protected by special procedural laws that require extra steps before you can make a claim.
Moreover, distracted bus drivers are not always to blame. In some cases other drivers are to blame. Sometimes road conditions or poor bus maintenance are at fault, and these circumstances can be more difficult to prove during the claims process or in court. This is where speaking with a bus accident lawyer can be especially helpful.
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Have You Or Someone You Love Been Injured in a Bus Accident?
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a school bus or a commercial bus, you may be eligible to file a claim for medical costs, emotional distress, and further damages.
Fill out our free case evaluation form to see if you can make a claim for injuries and damages. An experienced bus accident attorney at Morris Bart will assist you in the evaluation process. Initial consultations are FREE and we work on a contingency-fee basis.
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