The Safety of the School Bus
As the summer winds down, the many children who were running around enjoying the last gasps of sunshine and freedom will return to their classrooms. With students returning back to their academic year routines, this often includes taking a bus to school. Considering the vast things to worry about as students return back to school, it is important to know the large role safety precautions play in transporting children to and from school each and every day.
According to the Schoolbus Fleet, in the 2021-22 school year an estimated 489,748 yellow school buses provide transportation service daily in the United States, with about 20.5 million elementary and secondary school children riding school buses to and from school each day.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claims that the school bus is still one of the safest vehicles on the road, as less than 1 percent of all traffic fatalities involve children on school transportation vehicles. Therefore, families have an expectation that their children will safely arrive at their destinations. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. While collisions involving buses make up only a small portion of the total accidents each year, the results can be tragic, if not deadly.
From 2012 to 2021, most deaths in school bus-related crashes were occupants of vehicles other than the school bus, and 16% were pedestrians, 5% were school bus passengers, 5% were school bus drivers, and 3% were bicyclists.
School buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road; they are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in preventing crashes and injuries; and in every state, stop-arm laws protect children from other motorists. Yet, children are more at risk when approaching or leaving a school bus which makes it a key responsibility of drivers, parents, and students to understand the best ways to stay safe while utilizing school buses.
Take the initiative in talking with your children about school bus safety:
Federal law mandates that when a school bus has its stop-arm extended and red lights flashing, it is illegal for anyone to pass a school bus. Illegal school bus passing poses a significant threat to children and others on the road. Therefore, as one can suspect, taking caution around school buses is the duty of everyone on the road and at, or near, school buses.
Your child should plan on arriving at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus arrives. Plan for the year by practicing the expected route to the bus stop and show them where to safely wait. Where to wait makes a big difference as children should be at least ten feet away from the curb. Make it clear to children that the bus stop is not an area for running or horseplay.
Efforts to stay safe while getting on and off the bus are crucial. When the school bus arrives, your child should wait until the bus comes to a complete stop, the door opens, and the driver indicates or signals it is okay to get on or off. In addition, there are handrails which should be used to avoid falling.
To practice continued caution around the bus, no one should walk behind a school bus. Your child should also make eye contact with the bus driver before crossing to make sure the driver can see that they are crossing to avoid any potential danger zone. If your child drops something near the school bus, the safest thing to do is communicate with the bus driver, instead of trying to pick something up when the driver may not see them.
Back to school means back on the school buses. Taking adequate measures for safe use of the great resource of the school bus can save lives so budget the time to practice and have those conversations.
In the event that you or a family member are faced with an injury due to a school bus accident, the Personal Injury Lawyers at Kaveny + Kroll can assist you in sorting through the specific circumstances, relevant parties, and the applicable laws potentially governing your case. To learn more about our experience in bus related injuries, contact the Personal Injury attorneys at Kaveny + Kroll by calling (312) 761-5585.