School Bus Accidents and Child Safety
According to a recent article from CBS News, several children escaped from a school bus safely after it collided with a car on a road in southern New Jersey. The traffic collision occurred just after 8:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning in Lakewood. Early reports did not indicate how many children were on the vehicle at the time of the bus accident or how the crash occurred. The accident did, however, result in a serious fire that caused severe damage to the car involved.
Authorities reported to the scene of the crash, and emergency responders quickly extinguished the fire. According to CBS News, “all the children on the bus got out of the vehicle unharmed.”
This accident occurred just after a New Jersey lawmaker’s bill to install sensors on school buses gained headway. A report in School Transportation News indicated that New Jersey state assembly members advanced Bill A-1455 in mid-November. The proposed legislation aims to “increase school bus safety by detecting the presence of students in the bus’s danger zone.” If the bill passes, it will be known in New Jersey as Abigail’s Law. It “would require newly-manufactured school buses driven in New Jersey to have motion sensors to alert drivers to the presence of people or objects passing in front or behind of the school bus.”
Those in favor of the bill have cited recent school bus accidents in New Jersey, emphasizing that even substantial preventive education cannot do everything that safety technology can do. As one advocate of the proposed legislation explained, “putting sensors on buses simply is an additional step that can help reduce the likelihood of an accident and keep children in New Jersey safe.” Considering the recent bus accident and the risks of child injury, what can we do to help ensure that our kids are safe?
School Bus Accident Facts and Figures
To help keep our children safe when they are riding the school bus, it is important to understand some key facts and figures. According to an article in WebMD.com, school buses are, generally speaking, a safe mode of travel for your children. A spokesperson for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) emphasized that “the safety record of school transportation is just about untouched by any other mode.” The following statistics show the relative safety record of school transportation vehicles:
- School buses carry around 24 million students each year and travel a total of more than 4 billion miles, and they have a “rate of 0.2 deaths per 100 million miles traveled.” To put that figure in perspective, the rate of deaths in car accidents is about eight times that number.
- Between 1994 and 2004, only 71 school bus passengers died in bus accidents. Every year, more than 30,000 people sustain fatal injuries in auto accidents.
- Students in New Jersey are required to wear lap belts on school buses. While these seat belts are not quite as safe as three-point restraints (or those that go over the lap and shoulder), they can help to prevent injuries.
Few serious and fatal injuries occur to students while they are riding in school buses. More injuries tend to occur when students are exiting or entering the school bus, or when they are waiting at a bus stop. Therefore, talk to your child about paying attention to safety rules on and off the bus at all times – especially when getting on or off, or waiting for the bus.