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Accident Lawyers Network

Friday, March 7, 2008

School Bus Accident Injuries Don’t Have to Happen

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 474,000 school buses take 25.1 million students to and from school each year. And, on average, fewer than eight passengers are killed in accidents involving school buses each year. According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters, this makes riding a school bus one of the safest modes of vehicle transportation in the country. Yet, the NHTSA also shows that, up through 2005, 8,000 students were injured each year in school bus accidents. This is a much smaller number when compared to the hundreds of thousands of injuries reported each year in other motor vehicle accidents, but several groups are looking at ways to make this number even smaller – or perhaps eliminate it altogether.

Federal law does not require students to wear seatbelts, but several states such as California, Texas, and New York require them. There have been several accidents reported lately in the media involving school buses, in which students have been injured or killed in states where seatbelts are not required.

  • A bus driver ran a traffic signal in Harrisonburg, Virginia, hitting a car and another school bus. 28 people were injured.
  • North of Atlanta, Georgia, a school bus overturned injuring several high school and middle school students. Some students suffered head and neck injuries.
  • In Cottonwood, Minnesota, a school bus hit a van, then a pickup, before rolling over, killing four students and injuring 14.
  • In Washington, D.C., a school bus driver turned too fast, causing the school bus to flip. Five middle school students were injured.

In November 2007, before these accidents, Secretary Peters proposed higher seat backs and seat belts standards on all school buses. While it is unclear if seat belts would have saved the lives of the students killed in Minnesota, most of the injured might have walked away had they been wearing them.

It isn't just the accidents themselves parents and others are concerned about, but what causes them. Driver error is certainly a factor, not just with bus drivers, but with other drivers as well. However, school buses are large vehicles, and when they roll, there is a lot of room inside for students to bounce around, if they are not wearing seatbelts. Perhaps changing the Federal law will make a difference, but there is the assumption that, even without seatbelts, students will get to school safely. It's the obligation of the drivers and school districts to make sure this happens.

If your child has been injured in a school bus accident through negligence or carelessness, please contact an experienced injury lawyer to discuss your case.

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posted by Neil at 11:54 AM

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