With the new school year beginning, parents are concerned about the safety of their children on the school bus. Slips and falls or even bullying aren’t the biggest worries that weigh on their minds; instead, it’s the rising rate of motor vehicle accidents that involve school buses across the nation.
Several reports state that alcohol, drugs and distracted drivers account for only a minimal number of these accidents. Other causes have been bus drivers blacking out or suffering heart attacks behind the wheel, the aggressive driving of other cars on motorways and the glaring lack of safety belts on the buses themselves. Even with 42 percent of the last 26,000 school bus accidents resulting in serious or otherwise incapacitating injuries, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) continues to insist that your children are at their safest on the school bus.
What Parents Can Do to About It
• Teach your kids proper bus safety – Fewer and fewer schools take the time to discuss bus safety before children climb on board. Again, the responsibility falls to the parents to teach their kids about what to do in the event of a bus accident. Every school bus, depending on its seating capacity, has multiple emergency exits in addition to the front and rear doors, including window exits, roof hatches and side exit doors. Children need to know where these exits are and how to operate them in the event of a real emergency.
• Petition to have all buses equipped with seat belts – According to an expert injury attorney Indianapolis area law firm, many parents are shocked to find that it’s not a legal requirement for school buses to have safety belts. Most buses rely on the compact space between the seats and high seat-backs and the vehicle’s sheer size to protect students from crash injuries, a method called “compartmentalization”, but it isn’t enough. Anywhere from 40 to 50 percent of children’s injuries caused by bus accidents could be prevented or significantly lessened by the wearing of a seat belt at the time of impact.
• Hire professional help – If your child is involved in an accident while on the school bus, it’s important to not just hand over care of the situation to the school. Especially if your child or children have been injured in any way while on the bus, seeking the advice from a professional injury attorney may be the best chance of not only being compensated for any medical costs incurred but also of getting further safety legislation passed to prevent future accidents.
Approximately 17,000 children are treated annually for injuries accrued in school bus accidents around the country. However, it is still the view of the NHTSA that school buses are safer than parents’ cars. It’s required by law to wear helmets when on a motorbike and to wear seatbelts in a car, and these safety measures have been statistically proven to save lives and reduce injuries. So, why aren’t our children protected under the same laws to have life-saving seat belts on their school buses? Whatever the real answer might be, it won’t be enough to appease concerned parents.
Katie Hewatt is a single mother and contributing author for Randy Sevenish, an injury attorney Indianapolis based law firm who has represented personal injury victims since 1985. Bus accident cases can be complicated, if your child has been injured in a bus accident Sevenish Law Firm recommends you take immediate action to claim the compensation you and your child deserve.