There are about 480,000 yellow school buses that provide transportation for our nation’s children.  These buses make over 52 million trips daily getting children to and from school.  Consider that there are an additional 5 million trips made each day because of extra curricular activity round trips.  Travel by school bus is one of the safest modes of transportation in the world – nine times safer than any other passenger vehicles. 

Accidents do happen, however, and the results can often be devastating.  The tragic Liberty, Missouri school bus crash in 2005 resulting in catastrophic injuries and death serves as a vivid reminder of that. School bus accidents are not uncommon in Missouri and Kansas as well as the Kansas City metro area.

In fact, each year approximately 8,500 to 12,000 children sustain minor injuries (bumps, bruises, scrapes) because of school bus transportation.  The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) calculates that 350 to 475 children sustain major injuries such as broken bones, internal injuries, etc.  Finally, there are approximately 6 children fatally injured while inside a school bus and 16 children fatally injured during the loading and unloading process every year. 

Loading and Unloading
This is the most dangerous part of any child’s trip to or from school.  The majority of injuries and even fatalities occur when children are embarking or disembarking from a school bus. 
  • Other Drivers Ignoring Bus Rules – Drivers of other vehicles have been known to illegally pass buses that are stopped for loading or unloading.  Even with the aid of flashing lights, stop signs attached to the bus and even the bus position in the road, other drivers frequently do not want to wait and fail to yield to entering or exiting children.
  • Unsafe Actions of Children – Sometimes it is the very people we are trying to protect that cause accidents during loading and unloading.  Children may get distracted from safety rules and simply dart into the street when loading or unloading from the bus.
  • Bus Driver Inattention – Unfortunately, the bus driver can also be at fault during this process.  If he turns off the safety lights too quickly or loses track of where a child is located when outside of the bus accidents can happen.

Seat Belts vs. No Seat Belts
There is no question that seat belts save lives in automobile accidents, but what about school buses?  The shear size of a school bus offers its passengers a great deal of protection when accidents occur.  School bus seats are designed to protect children should they be thrown from their seat or even collide with the seat in front of them.  Seat belts being added to current school bus design could, in some cases, increase the potential for injury as the seats may not be adequately secured to the floor to withstand an accident.  Finally, there are no adequate measures for a bus driver to ensure all of the passengers are safely buckled throughout the driver’s route.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, however, several states are requiring buses to have two-point and even three-point buckling systems installed in their school buses. Clearly, seat belts save lives.

Have You Been Injured In A Kansas City Area Car Accident?

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James Roswold
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James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.