The nights are getting cooler, leaves are beginning to change and the kids are nowhere in sight. Yes, summer is over and children are back in school. But for most kids here in Orange County, they will either be passengers in cars or walking to school, instead of taking the bus, due to California’s state budget cuts. 70% less school bus routes will be available for families living within Laguna Niguel and Mission Viejo this school year. Transporting children to and from school creates more traffic in and around schools and leaves children vulnerable to personal injury.
When driving a vehicle, your children have ten times greater risk of injury then if they were in a school bus. While walking them to school, your injury risk is about double. School bus transportation is generally safe but it does have inherent safety risks as well. Nationwide school bus-related accidents send over 17,000 children to emergency rooms each year. Over 1500 fatalities have occurred over the last two decades.
One quarter of school bus accidents occur while the children are boarding or leaving the bus area. Another 50% of injuries are directly related to crashes while traveling on the bus and the other 25% are generally slips and falls, getting jostled when buses stop or turn suddenly, and from roughhousing.
Earlier this year in Chino, California we had a serious school bus accident, but fortunately for the occupants on the bus, they all had some type of restraining device thanks to our new seatbelt law and fortunately most of the injuries were minor. California is one of only 6 states that have mandated seat belts in all new school buses and this has reduced the risk of serious injury tremendously.
Although the approximate $4,000 cost of safety belts installed in new school buses are generally thought to be a good idea, many smaller districts can’t justify the extra costs. Some districts are now faced with liability issues of kids misbehaving on buses. Distraction among bus drivers is the leading cause of accidents. This is another strong argument for seat belt use in school buses. Keeping kids immobile will provide a safer environment for everyone involved.
If one of your children or if you know a child that has been injured in a school bus-related accident, don’t hesitate to call an experienced personal injury attorney. They are ready to assist you through the process of dealing with insurance companies, specialty doctors and other agencies.
Lastly, if your child does ride on a school bus, he or she should be aware of the area called the “danger zone”. This is the area in front of the bus where the driver has a blind spot and sadly over 2/3 of children’s fatalities are caused by their own bus running them over. Many new buses have wider windows for better viewing and door arms to help protect the kids.
Let’s keep our children out of the danger zone if we can.