According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 25 million students are in school with an average of 500,000 school buses on the roads. While school buses are statistically one of the safest modes of transportation, more than twice as many children are killed while getting on or off school buses than while riding in them. Preventable School Bus Accident
A 12-year-old girl was hit by a school bus in a South New Jersey middle school parking lot. She was walking across the parking lot which had no designated lines for pedestrian paths and no cross walks. She was run over by the rear tire of a school bus as it came around a loop. She suffered multiple fractures and serious internal injuries.
The bus driver was not faulted. The girl was walking between two cars.
At fault was the school district for failing to provide a parking lot with visibly designated markings; failing to provide appropriate cross walks; and failing to provide a school safety plan for bus arrivals and departures.
“This case, on first blush, appeared to be one of a careless child darting out between parked cars and running into the side of a bus, causing her own injuries”, states Larry Cohan, counsel for the victim.
“After careful analysis, and expert review, it became apparent that this child was a victim of bad planning and bad design by her school. Had there been proper crosswalks, a safety plan and supervision, this child would not have even been crossing where she was, and the incident would not have occurred. The irresponsible school officials, who created this danger, were clearly negligent, and the school was required to pay for their failures.”
The girl received a substantial settlement. Through extensive medical care and physical therapy, she is recovering.
School budget and school districts in many states are frequently in dire straits and are forced to make choices in how their limited funds are expended. Somehow the important issue of school bus safety goes to the back of the bus and doesn’t get addressed.
School Bus Safety Problems
In 2002, 26 children were killed as pedestrians getting on or off a school bus, or while waiting at the school bus stop. Other motorists illegally passing a stopped school bus remain a problem in every community and the school bus industry urges stricter police and judicial enforcement against violators.
School buses always are operated by drivers with a Commercial Drivers License (CDL), required by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and who have received special school bus driver training required by states. In addition, no one can drive a school bus without first passing drug and alcohol screening and required law enforcement background checks.
There is no safer way to transport a child than in a school bus. Fatal crashes involving school bus occupants are rare events, even though school buses drive a remarkable 8.8 billion students to and from school annually. Every school day, some 500,000 yellow school buses transport more than 25 million children to and from schools mostly without a serious incident.
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