Should Parents be Concerned About School Bus Safety?
According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses are a safer transportation option for students than passenger cars. An extensive study of school transportation accidents shows that school-aged occupants of school transportation vehicles fared better than occupants of other vehicles and pedestrians. This is welcome assurance for parents, who generally feel safer when their children are under their control, buckled up in the back seat. But there remain areas of serious concern.
The NHTSA study looked at fatalities involving school-aged children from 2003 to 2012. In total, 55 students died as passengers on school vehicles, but 161 were killed while riding in other vehicles and 119 were struck and killed while walking. While the loss of any child is tragic, these levels are incredibly low when we consider how many millions of students ride school buses every day. It is unclear how many of the pedestrian deaths were children killed while walking towards or away from a school bus. The study seems to confirm that school buses are a safe option for students, but many observers find room for improvement, and are pressing for changes.
The New Jersey legislature is considering several bills that might improve school bus safety, such as:
- S503 — Allows municipalities and districts to contract with companies to install stop-arm cameras to identify cars that pass stopped school buses
- S2011 — Requires new buses to be equipped with sensors to alert drivers when a student walks in front
- S632 — Requires new buses to be equipped with lap-shoulder safety belts
- S274 — Requires NJ Department of Education to develop a training program for bus drivers on interacting with special needs students
Cost is a factor the legislator and the governor must consider. The seat belt bill alone would add from $7,000 to $20,000 to the price of each new bus. This might be a tough sell, especially when we consider how safe school buses have already proven to be.
If your child has been injured in a school bus accident, you should consult an attorney as quickly as possible. Brown, Novick & McKinley offers free consultations in accident cases. For an appointment with an experienced New Jersey accident attorney, call 866-942-4909 or contact us online.