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Elaine Mandel
Elaine Mandel
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Are Your Kids Safe on the School Bus?

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A new study shows that there are thousands of accidents on school busses each year. Looking at the types of injuries can hopefully shed light on how to decrease those numbers.

Each year in the United States, 23.5 million children travel 4.3 billion miles on school buses. You put your child on the school bus every morning. You think they’re safe. But a just-released study provides some scary numbers about the numbers of school bus injuries.

According to the study, published in the November issue of Pediatrics, from 2001 to 2003 there were an estimated 51,100 school bus-related injuries that resulted in treatment in an U.S. emergency room. That is about 17,000 injuries annually.

This new study raises several issues:

Car accidents cause the majority of these injuries, so one issue to consider is how bus drivers are trained. What types of pre-hire testing are they required to take? What do you know about your child’s bus driver?

The second leading cause of injuries is getting onto or off the bus. Make sure your child, especially those under 10, understand it’s important to pay attention when getting onto or off the bus. Make sure they wait until the bus stops fully until they get up from their seat. Are they running onto or off the bus? Are they carrying too many school books? Are the steps too high for smaller children?

Finally, it’s 10-14 year olds who are most frequently injured. This means that safety training should be aimed at reaching children in this age group.

The highest proportion of injuries occurred during the months of September and October. Children 10-to 14-years-old suffered the most injuries compared with all other age groups. Motor vehicle crashes, where the child was a passenger on the school bus as a result of a collision between the bus and another motor vehicle, topped the list and accounted for 42 percent of the total injuries. The next highest amount of injuries (24 percent) occurred as the child was getting on or off the school bus.

Lawyers and lawsuits have been responsible for trying to bring these numbers down by enforcing safety procudures for school bus drivers and for bus riders, such as seatbelts on busses and “escape hatches” in the bus’ roof to allow children to escape if the bus rolls over. If your child was injured in a school bus accident, they are entitled to representation and compensation for those injuries.