Are children at risk of suffering a serious injury in a school bus accident? Do we need to consider the risks of traumatic brain injuries when we rely on school transportation? According to a recent report in the Times of San Diego, eight kids sustained injuries earlier this month while aboard a school bus that “made an abrupt stop.” The accident occurred close to Flinn Springs County Park in the later afternoon. At the time of the injuries, the bus had been carrying about 50 children. The California Highway Patrol indicated that many of those young students “reported hitting their heads as the vehicle lurched to a stop.”
Emergency responders ended up transporting eight of those kids to a local hospital for “precautionary exams.” Those medics evaluated numerous other children at the scene of the accident who complained of hitting their heads. What caused the accident and injuries? According to the California Highway Patrol, “the driver of the bus may have braked hard to avoid a collision.”
Deadly School Bus Accidents are Not the Norm
A recent article in USA Today emphasized that statistically speaking, deadly school bus crashes are rare, particularly when we are speaking of fatal injuries to children on board. When school bus collisions are fatal, “they rarely kill children, who log thousands of hours riding each year.” The article examined data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), noting that between 2004 and 2013 only 1,214 fatal school-related transportation accidents occurred. How small is that number in comparison to other auto accidents during the same period? In short, school bus accidents represent only about 0.4% of all fatal traffic collisions between 2004 and 2013.
Even when deadly school-related transportation accidents do take place, the victims who suffer fatal injuries are rarely those who are riding on the bus. According to the NHTSA, just over 130 people die each year in school bus accidents. And of those victims, only about 8% are school bus passengers. Who are the more common victims of fatal school bus accidents? In general, passengers in other vehicles tend to be at greatest risk of deadly injuries.
The NHTSA indicates that nearly 75% of fatal school bus accidents involve passengers in other cars. The remaining fatalities tend to involve pedestrians and bicyclists. As the article points out, “once a bus begins rolling down the road, a child is, statistically speaking, safer inside the bus than outside it.”
Preventing School Bus Accidents and Injuries
If children tend to be safest once they are inside a school bus (as opposed to outside of it), how can we take preventive measures to ensure that our children remain safe while they wait for the bus or step off the bus at the end of the school day? The National Safety Council recommends some of the following:
- Stay away from traffic while waiting for the bus.
- When the bus approaches, wait until it has completely stopped before trying to board.
- Use the handrail when entering and exiting the bus.
- Walk at least 10 feet ahead of the bus before crossing in front of it so the driver can see you.
- Do not stand or walk anywhere near the rear wheels of the bus.
If your child suffered injuries in a school bus accident, you may be able to file a claim for compensation. An experienced San Diego bus accident attorney can answer your questions today. Contact the Walton Law Firm to learn more about how we can assist with your case.