According to the American School Bus Council (ASBC), school buses are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles when it comes to avoiding dangerous motor vehicle accidents and preventing injuries to passengers from collisions ("Simply put, the Yellow School Bus is the safest way to get to school.").
The ASBC says a school bus is 50 times safer than riding to school in a car with a teenage driver. Interestingly enough, students are also statistically much safer on a bus than riding with their parents – the ASBC says students are 20 times more likely to arrive at school unharmed if they take a school bus than if they are driven by a parent or guardian.
However, human error and other outside factors can still cause an accident, regardless of the vehicle’s safety features. This can result in student injuries, as well as injuries for the occupants of the other vehicle(s) involved in the crash. While the ASBC says school buses are safer rides for students, this does not mean that school bus related crashes are better for the occupants of other motor vehicles and/or pedestrians involved in the crash.
School Bus Design Reduces Risk of Injury
The raw size and power of school buses naturally make their occupants less prone to serious injuries and fatalities in the event of an accident. The vehicle’s frame and safety enhancements protect its passengers from being seriously injured in a collision. The bright color and retractable stop signs make school buses more visible to drivers of other vehicles.
These safety features are great news for child safety in regards to school transportation. However, the raw size and power of the school buses can potentially also make them more harmful for the occupants of standard motor vehicles or pedestrians in the unfortunate event that a collision does happen.
Injuries and Fatalities from School Bus Accidents
A child’s risk of being injured or killed on a school bus is very low. However, there are still a significant number of these types of accidents every year in the United States, as illustrated in the graphics below:
According to the NHTSA, there were a total of 1,344 fatalities in traffic accidents involving school buses between 2004 and 2013 in the United States – an average of almost 134 fatal accidents each year.
It is important to note that occupants of the other vehicle(s) involved make up approximately 71% of all traffic fatalities from school bus-related accidents. Still, the NHTSA estimates that from 2004 to 2013 there were 116 school-aged pedestrians who died in school-transportation related accidents. More than two thirds of the school-aged pedestrians fatally injured were struck by school buses or vehicles acting as school buses.
Because school buses are often operated through government agencies and local school districts, liability involving school bus accident cases can be quite complicated. Accident victims and their loved ones would likely benefit from consulting with an experienced school bus accident lawyer to determine if a claim should be pursued.
For more information and statistics related to school bus accidents, visit the NHTSA’s specialized school bus website here.