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Understanding school bus safety and the rate of bus accidents

During the school year, motorists of all ages can see the iconic yellow bus traveling on the roadways each morning and afternoon during the weekdays. Many families in Massachusetts rely on a school bus to get their child to and from school safely and efficiently. Throughout the country, roughly 450,000 public school buses are utilized each year to transport approximately 23.5 million students to a from school and school-related activities.

Recent statistics suggest that a school bus is a safer option than a parent driving a student to and from school with a personal vehicle. In fact, a child is 50 times more likely to arrive alive at school when they take a bus, as opposed to a car.

One major and ongoing concern regarding school buses is that they are not equipped with seat belts or any form of safety restraints. Smaller buses, weighing less than 10,000 pounds, do require lap belts; however, larger school buses are designed to distribute crash force. Additionally, buses have special design features to help prevent injury to occupants in the vehicle.

While school buses are deemed to be very safe and effective vehicles for transporting students, roughly six students are killed each year in school bus accidents. Bus safety is a top priority and the NHTSA seeks to improve safety of buses to ensure that no fatalities occur because of a bus crash. However, the unfortunate reality is that innovative technology and safety designs cannot always prevent a negligent bus driver from endangering passengers, or a negligent driver in another vehicle from causing a collision with a bus.

People who suffer injuries in a bus accident, whether in a school bus or some other kind of bus, can pursue legal action to get compensation. Although buses tend to be a safe mode of transportation, injuries and fatalities can still happen.

Source: NHTSA.gov, "School Buses," accessed Feb. 24, 2017

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