It’s almost time to send your children back to school. Even though a lot about education has changed since your day, there’s one thing that remains the same: the big yellow school bus. You remember the days of the school bus: it may have been your favorite part of the day – or your least favorite – but those are memories that stick with you.
Back in your day, though, you probably weren’t wearing seat belts. You may have even been jumping around from seat to seat. Looking back, it probably wasn’t very safe to do that. Which begs the question: exactly how common are school bus accidents?
Fatal Crashes are Rare, but They Do Happen
Have you ever seen a school bus get into an accident? It’s not very common. In fact, crashes involving a school bus or other form of school transportation only accounted for .4% of all fatal motor vehicle crashes between 2004 and 2013.
School bus accidents cause around 134 deaths each year, but the majority of those deaths are not the children riding the bus. In fact, bus passengers only account for 8% of those deaths.
From 2004-2015, only 106 adults and children have been killed while riding or driving a school bus. Of those 106 people, 61 were passengers. School bus drivers face a similar risk while driving to and from school every day.
So who is getting killed? Pedestrians, cyclists, and individuals outside of motor vehicles account for around 20% of school bus accident deaths. The majority of people killed in school bus-related crashes, however, are passengers of other vehicles that the bus comes in contact with.
This statistic may be shocking, but makes sense considering how large school buses are compared to our cars. That’s why it’s important for all drivers to refresh their memory on safety during back-to-school time, and always be cautious when driving around school buses – it’s not just about keeping kids safe, but you!
The lack of bus passenger deaths in accidents is a good thing, but it doesn’t mean that school bus injuries don’t occur.
Crashes Only Account for Half of School Bus Injuries
When most studies focus on school bus injuries, they focus on injuries that come from traffic accidents and crashes. However, there are other risks associated with riding the school bus. In fact, in 2006 studies showed that crashes only accounted for 42% of injuries.
Including other causes, school bus injuries are said to send around 17,000 U.S. children to the emergency room each year. Crashes account for the highest percentage of injuries, but the second highest cause is boarding and leaving the bus. For example, your child could slip and fall on the steps leading to the bus, or get hit by a car while exiting the bus and crossing the street.
Other common causes of school bus injuries include:
- Slips and falls in the bus
- Sudden turns and stops on the bus
- Horsing around
Most injuries will not require extended hospitalization and include things such as cuts, scrapes, broken bones, and so on.
Staying Safe on the Bus
Even though fatalities from bus accidents are rare, roughhousing and falls cause minor injuries every day – and sometimes even major ones. We’re not writing this to scare you, though. Statistics about bus injuries are a just good reminder to talk to your children about bus safety.
The below advice may seem simple or silly, but they could save your child’s life. Before your kids head on the bus this year, remind them to:
- Look both ways when crossing the street and getting off the bus.
- Stay sitting in their seat; being up and moving around will put them at risk of falling if the bus needs to make a sudden turn or stop.
- Don’t shout or hop around seats of the bus; this will distract the driver
- Don’t run onto the bus or to their seat; if the bus is slippery or the steps are high, they may end up with a nasty fall.
- Tell an adult if they get a cut on the bus. Leaving a cut go unattended for a long period of time could cause infection.
- Wear a seat belt. In Florida, there are seat belts available on the bus, and while it’s not the coolest thing to do, it will allow your child to stay safe through any sudden turns, stops, or other unsafe incidents on the bus.
What to Do If Your Child Is Injured on a School Bus
There is a risk with any kind of motor vehicle transportation, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that school buses are the safest way for children to get to and from school. They are designed to be safer than regular cars or passenger vehicles and prevent more injuries.
If your child is injured on a school bus, however, know that you do have options and may be able to file a claim for compensation to cover medical bills and other costs. Contact a Florida personal injury lawyer today to review your case and see if you have a strong case.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his 22-year career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.