As a parent of school-age children, you may find it hard to say goodbye to your little ones in the morning as they climb onto the bus. Will they listen and behave? Will they make friends with other kids? Most importantly – how safe are school buses?
You know that school bus accidents can and do happen. However, you also know that the media tends to sensationalize it when bad things occur, raising fears and doubts.
So, what’s the truth?
Generally speaking, school buses are incredibly safe. In fact, they are considered safer than any other mode of transportation to get to and from school, and most schools maintain rigorous safety standards.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at school bus safety, the likelihood of your child experiencing a school bus injury, and what parents can do to decrease your child’s risks.
How Safe Are New York School Buses?
Again, because it bears repeating, school buses are some of the safest vehicles on the road. Your child is much safer on a school bus than traveling to and from school by car, bike, or on foot.
Why? A number of reasons.
School buses have all kinds of safety features to help decrease the risk of accidents and injuries. They’re designed to be highly visible, and include things like flashing lights, cross rear-view mirrors, and stop sign arms. School buses also have high crush standards, and are equipped with rollover protection features.
Although school buses do not have seatbelts, the design itself helps to keep passengers safe. School buses are heavier, and distribute crash forces differently than cars or light trucks. Children are also protected by strong, closely-spaced seats with energy-absorbing seat backs.
How Common are School Bus Accidents in New York?
About 17,000 children annually are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries related to school buses. This includes injuries sustained riding the bus, getting on or off of the bus, or standing near the bus.
That may sound like a big number, but fatal school bus accidents are extremely rare. Moreover, most school bus accidents result in only minor injuries such as sprains, strains, scrapes, or bruises.
New York School Bus Safety Tips
One big thing to be aware of: a high number of school bus injuries don’t occur during crashes. Instead, they happen when children are getting on or off of the bus, or standing near the bus.
This is good news, because while you can’t stop a bus from crashing, you can take steps to teach your child how to behave around buses.
The following safety tips can minimize your child’s chance of a school bus injury:
- Arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the school bus is supposed to arrive. When the bus approaches, stand at least six feet away from the curb.
- Line up to get on the bus facing the school bus door rather than along the side of the bus.
- Do not play in the street while waiting for the school bus.
- Don’t approach the bus until it has fully stopped, the door has opened, and the driver has said that you can board the bus.
- When crossing the street in front of a bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the street until you are at least 10 feet ahead of the bus.
- Before crossing in front of a school bus, make sure that you can see the driver and the driver can see you. Wait for a signal from the driver before crossing.
- Hold onto the handrails when boarding the bus.
- When you get off of the bus, make sure that clothes and bookbags don’t get caught on handrails or doors.
If your children follow these rules, they are far less likely to get hurt.
What if they are injured in a crash, though? What can you do? Who’s responsible?
While there are many possibilities depending on the specifics of the situation, the best thing you can do is act fast to get your child the medical treatment he or she needs, making sure to document everything along the way. This information will be invaluable if you do end up deciding to file a negligence claim and fight for compensation for your child.