When you send your child off to school on that big yellow bus, you want to feel secure that he or she is in good hands and will arrive safely at school. Fortunately, that is exactly what happens in the vast majority of cases. School transportation accidents account for less than one-half of one percent of motor vehicle accidents in the United States. That’s an impressive record considering that about 25 million students are transported over four billion miles of road each year. Still, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are more than 100 fatalities associated with school transportation accidents each year.
School Bus Accident Fatality Statistics
Despite the large number of school bus passengers and the fact that most states’ laws, including New York’s, do not require the use of seatbelts on buses, most of those killed in school bus accidents are not students. Rather, drivers or occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians and others suffer the majority of fatal injuries. Between 2003 and 2012, just 8% of the 1,222 school transportation-related fatalities were occupants of the school bus or other school transportation vehicle. Of that number, nearly as many drivers are killed as passengers.
71% of those killed in school bus accidents were occupants of other vehicles; this figure includes both drivers and passengers. Another 21% were bicyclists, pedestrians and others not in the school bus or another vehicle involved in the accident.
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Liability for School Bus Accidents
Determining who is responsible for a school bus accident can be complicated. Some school districts own school buses and hire bus drivers, while others contract with an outside school bus company to provide student transportation services. When an outside provider owns the buses and employs the drivers, that company may carry some or all of the liability for an accident. In part, this depends on the terms of the contract between the school district and the bus company, but the analysis is much more complex. For example, if the bus company has a poor safety record, licensing is not up to date or otherwise is not an appropriate choice, the school district may be liable for negligence in entrusting students to that provider.
Safety Standards for School Buses
The standard of care for safe operation of a school bus may include multiple sets of regulations and policies. For example:
- Federal safety standards
- State safety regulations
- District policies
- Contractual representations of a private school bus company
These regulations and policies address a variety of aspects of maintenance and operation of school buses, including driver and other staff training, supervision and equipment maintenance. An experienced in school bus accident attorney will be equipped to assess all relevant standards and the circumstances of the accident to determine whether the school district, a private bus company, a third party such as the driver of another vehicle, or multiple parties may be liable for the accident.
Talk to a School Bus Accident Attorney Right Away
Whether your child was injured while riding the bus to school, you were injured when a school bus collided with your vehicle or a loved one was killed when struck by a school bus, an experienced school bus accident attorney may be your best resource. If you need help pursuing compensation for your injuries, injuries to your child or the loss of a loved one, schedule a free consultation right now. Just call 212-732-2929 or fill out the contact form on this page to get started.