As the school year nears, parents have a lot on their minds: new classes, fall sports practices, back-to-school shopping, and generally hectic schedules. But there is one thing you hope never to have to worry about: you or your children being hurt in a school bus accident. While school buses are among the safest modes of transporting students to and from school, accidents do happen.
School Bus Accident Facts
In Massachusetts, an estimated half a million public school students travel daily on 9,000 yellow school buses (School Bus Fleet). According to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, most school bus-related injuries happen to people getting on or off a bus. Children aged 4-7 have the highest risk of suffering school bus injuries.
Nationwide, an average of over 13,000 people a year sustain injuries in school bus crashes (National Safety Council). School bus passengers and the occupants of other vehicles are most likely to be hurt, but bus drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists may also be injured.
School Bus Accident Prevention
School buses are relatively safe, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, because they are the most highly regulated vehicles on the road. They have two major factors working in their favor to help prevent accidents.
First, school buses have built-in safety features: a bright yellow color, flashing red lights, cross-view mirrors, stop-sign arms, and rollover protection. Second, traffic laws make it illegal to pass school buses while they are dropping off or picking up passengers. In Massachusetts, drivers can receive up to a $200 fine for illegally passing a school bus and even have their license suspended if they do it again.
To further protect students, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts includes the following school and community goals on its school bus safety fact sheet:
- Educate children and parents on safe behaviors when riding the bus and getting on and off the bus (such as waiting for the driver’s signal before crossing).
- Closely supervise young children under age 10 who have to cross the street after exiting the bus.
- Develop appropriate school bus pick-up and drop-off policies.
- Run bus evacuation drills in accordance with Massachusetts law.
- Work with local traffic enforcement officers to help slow traffic near schools and ensure adherence to bus-related traffic laws.
School Bus Accident Injuries
Despite all the safety precautions surrounding school buses, accidents still occur and can cause severe injuries and even death. The following factors may contribute to school bus crashes:
- Other drivers on the road don’t always obey Massachusetts school bus traffic laws, and may be impaired, inattentive, or speeding.
- Inclement weather or roadway hazards can create unsafe driving conditions.
- Sometimes school bus drivers are tired, intoxicated, distracted, or inadequately trained.
- Poorly maintained or defective equipment — either on the bus itself or other vehicles on the road — can result in dangerous mechanical failures.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Massachusetts school bus accident, a knowledgeable local attorney can help protect your rights. The skilled bus accident lawyers at Altman & Altman LLP will work to secure financial compensation on your behalf for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and more. Contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced Massachusetts school bus injury lawyer.