Is Your Child Safe when Riding a School Bus?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 19 school-aged children die every year in collisions involving school transportation vehicles. Of those young victims, roughly five die while inside a school transportation vehicle and 12 are killed as pedestrians involved in collisions. The most popular form of school transit continues to be school buses, and with millions of American parents relying upon them every day, it is vital to know what safety issues surround school buses and what steps parents can take to make sure their child is as safe and secure as possible.

In addition to those children who are killed each year, hundreds more are injured to the point that they need medical attention due to school bus accidents, a sobering reality that illustrates the real risks faced by children in Illinois. While all children can become accident victims, the biggest risk is associated with the youngest, most vulnerable school-aged children and it is crucial that parents of these kids understand what hazards may be present.

In the 10 year period between 1998 and 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 47 percent of the school aged pedestrians who were killed were between the ages of five and seven, an age range that represents a very small portion of the total school-aged population but nearly half of those fatalities. Experts believe that the issues surrounding these accidents are complex and that blame may rest on many parties but the most important issue is that all drivers must be alert at all times when near a school bus, a school stop, or another area where children may be entering or exiting a bus. Failing to pay attention or failing to notice where children are located can lead to a collision that can cause a range of injuries from bruising, lacerations, broken or fractured bones, head injuries, internal damage, and even death.

In most jurisdictions, school bus operators are required to undergo special training and obtain a special license to operate a vehicle like a school bus. This training includes an education as to the safety issues that surround the transit of young children and how best to keep those kids safe. However, sometimes a driver with a poor record or with a history of traffic-related issues is hired for such a job, contrary to guidelines, and therefore children on that driver’s bus may face an increased risk of harm. Further, some training that is given to new bus drivers may be inadequate and therefore these driver may never obtain the guidance they need to perform their job safely.

Finally, kids – especially very young children – often lack the judgment necessary to avoid risks that adults inherently understand to be life-threatening. This means that a child may cross in front of traffic, step from a sidewalk too so, or otherwise act in a way that can place that child’s safety at risk. Often, this happens when a bus driver or another adult fails to properly instruct the child on what to do when waiting for a bus, getting on a bus, or getting off a bus.

If your child was involved in a school bus accident, make sure you understand whether your family is entitled to financial compensation for the damages you sustain. If you have questions, you can call the personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. toll free at (855) 529-2442 or locally at (312) 924-7575. We have a licensed lawyer standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call and we provide an initial case consultation to all victims who contact us without any cost to them or any obligation on their part.

Prior Blog Entry:

Manufacturers Preparing for Backup Cameras in All Vehicles, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published October 19, 2015.

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