School buses rank among the safest forms of transportation to take your children to and from school. But accidents can and do happen. Every year, approximately 17,000 children are treated in emergency rooms for school bus injuries, as reported by Stanford Children’s Health. Thanks to modern school bus design, most of the injuries children suffer in bus traffic crashes are minor strains, sprains, scrapes, and bruises.
School Bus Accident Statistics
Studies have shown that more than 40% of school bus injuries are caused by vehicle accidents. This is usually when children are getting on and off the bus, as drivers, despite being legally required to stop when indicated by a bus, drive by the school bus and strike a child crossing the street.
Sadly, on average 7 children are killed in school bus related accidents every year. On top of that, 19 children are killed every year while getting on or off the bus. While buses are designed to be as safe as possible, you can’t control other drivers, or even the driver of the bus in question.
What Causes School Bus Accidents?
Driver distraction is a leading cause of school bus traffic crashes. This is not surprising when the driver is dealing with a bus full of kids who are not strapped in with seat belts. Other drivers are required by law to stop and wait when a school bus’s red light is flashing. When they fail to stop and pass the bus instead, they may strike children in the bus’s danger zone who are getting on or off the bus.
Most school buses do not have seat belts. Instead, seats are constructed in compartments designed to absorb force in a crash. The seats are higher, wider, and thicker, with all metal surfaces padded, and no more than two feet apart, limiting the distance a child can be thrown in a crash. This construction provides protection in head-on and rear-end collisions, but children can still be tossed from side to side in an accident.
How Should You Prepare Your Child for Riding a School Bus?
If you are parent with children who ride the bus, tell them to sit quietly and listen to the driver. Instruct them to wait for the bus at least six feet away from the curb and to line up facing the bus door, not along the street. If your children must cross the street in front of a school bus, tell them to make sure they are least ten feet in front of the bus before they cross, so the driver can see them. Your children should use the handrails when getting on and off the bus, making sure their clothing or book bags do not get caught. Warn them to never try to pick up an item dropped near the bus without first telling the driver.
Who Is Liable for School Bus Accidents?
If your child was injured on a school bus, you may have a claim against the bus company, the school district, or another party. The time limit for filing claims against government entities is much shorter than the limit for filing against private parties. For this and many other reasons, it is important to have an experienced lawyer represent you.
Our Boulder bus accident attorneys at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC are dedicated advocates for injured people. Call us at (303) 665-2929 for skilled representation if your child has been hurt in a school bus accident. We have offices in Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins.