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School Bus Accident Tragedy Highlights Need for Safety

Home » School Bus Accident Tragedy Highlights Need for Safety
August 15, 2023
Edward Smith

Safety Need After Fatal School Bus Crash

More than 20 million students are transported to and from school daily through school buses. As parents prepare for the upcoming school year, they often depend on school buses as a safe mode of transportation for their children. The general belief is that the safest option for transportation is school buses. However, that is not always true based on national statistics and legal matters.

Statistics on School Bus Accidents in the United States

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a crash related to school transportation is defined as a traffic collision that directly or indirectly involves a vehicle used solely for school transportation. These vehicles include school buses or non-school buses operating as school buses that transport children for school-related activities or to and from school. In a June 2022 report by NHTSA, data was compiled for 2011-2020 for school transportation vehicle accidents. It was found that:

  • Approximately 1,009 fatal collisions involving school transportation vehicles occurred. This resulted in 1,125 fatalities, accounting for an average of 113 deaths annually.
  • Of the reported fatalities from those years, 113 were occupants. This included 60 passengers and 53 motorists. Roughly 70 percent of these fatalities were occupants of other cars involved in the collisions.
  • Among all occupants of school buses killed, 61 percent were over 19, and 18 percent were 5-10 years old.
  • Of all pedestrians killed in accidents involving school transportation vehicles, 53 percent were aged 19 and older, and 24 percent were between the ages of 5 to 10.
  • The majority of reported deaths occurred as a result of collisions involving the fronts of vehicles utilized for school transportation purposes.
  • Accidents involving school transportation vehicles comprised 0.3 percent (1,009) of fatal motor vehicle collisions (326,149) from 2011 to 2020. Approximately 49 percent of school transportation-related collisions occurred in rural areas.
  • There was a decrease in fatalities associated with school transportation from 2019 to 2020, with 111 to 54. This accounted for a decrease of 51 percent. This is attributed to the disruption in in-person attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fatal School Bus Crash Case Highlighting the Need for Safety Devices

In 2015, a child, age 5, was tragically killed in a school bus accident. The child was said to have been struck by a school bus as they crossed in front of the vehicle behind their siblings. The child’s backpack was reportedly caught on the crossing arm in front of the school bus, and its contents spilled directly in front of the vehicle. As the child reached down to gather their belongings, they were struck by the school bus. The front of the school bus had a blind spot that prevented the driver from spotting the child bent down, gathering the items from their spilled backpack.

Attorneys for the child’s family prepared for trial by working with their team of investigators to conduct an independent investigation into the incident. A bus equipped with the student detection system (SDS system) manufactured by Rostra was tested. The system was found to have functioned as intended. Lawyers for the family also proved that the cross-viewed mirrors were unreliable as they may be obstructed by rain, snow, ice, dirt, and dust. This may distort a school bus driver’s view of students and others on the road.

In this case, the involved school bus was manufactured in 2002. Since the late 1980s, school bus manufacturers knew sensor systems, or student detection systems, were available. These served as a means of eliminating the blind spot on the front of buses. However, by 2002, no bus manufacturer had taken the initiative to implement the safety systems. Only a small number of school buses are equipped with safety systems today. Moreover, there is restricted utilization of this safety device in a few states.

What is Abigail’s Law?

Abigail’s Law has been enacted in New Jersey. Under this law, all newly sold school buses in New Jersey must have sensor systems installed. The law was proposed after a young child named Abigail was struck by a school bus. The toddler was reportedly standing right in front of the school bus as her sister was getting on the bus. The bus driver claimed to have been unaware of the young child’s presence at the time of the incident.

In response to this heartbreaking incident, the general assembly of New Jersey recognized the urgency to address such a tragedy. Thus, the law, A1455, was enacted to ensure that sensor systems are installed in newly manufactured school buses in New Jersey. This is intended to ensure the safety of students, particularly younger students. Unfortunately, most school buses currently in operation across the nation lack this necessary safety feature.

Traffic Accident Cases Involving Minor Children in California

In California, motorists hold a greater duty of care when it comes to ensuring the safety of minor children on the road. This duty stems from recognizing the unpredictability and vulnerability of young children and the need to keep them out of harm’s way. The driver’s duty of care for children on the road encompasses various aspects, including the anticipation of unpredictable behavior, increased vigilance and reduced speed in areas where children tend to be present, and exercising additional caution to check blind spots, particularly at turns.

When a motorist fails in this obligation and causes an accident involving a minor child, they may be liable for the resulting losses. Parents or legal guardians may compensate injured children for economic and non-economic damages in a personal injury case. These cases aim to make the claimant whole again and have the at-fault party take responsibility for their actions. Eligible claimants may be compensated for past and future loss of income, past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other relevant damages.

A different deadline applies to cases involving minor children in California. The two-year statute of limitations is tolled in injury cases involving minors. In other words, the clock does not start ticking until the child turns 18. From the date of their 18th birthday, they have two years to file. To ensure that your child’s rights are protected, it is essential to have an experienced and knowledgeable accident attorney on your side. Learn how our legal team at can help with your case by calling for a free consultation or watching this video about our services.

Personal Injury Lawyer in California

Every parent’s worst nightmare is a motor vehicle collision involving their child. If your child suffered injuries in a school bus accident, you are not alone. Our experienced and compassionate California personal injury lawyers are here to seek justice and full compensation. We are available to review your potential case in a free consultation anytime at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. We are here to listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and provide free and friendly advice.

Photo Credit: Pexels – arthousestudio

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