Buses are large, hulking vehicles that are designed to carry many people at the same time. There are a variety of buses on the road: shuttle buses, commuter buses, school buses, church buses, charter buses, city buses and other public transportation buses.
When a bus is involved in an accident, there is potential for great harm to people both outside and inside the bus.
School Bus Statistics and Data
Nearly half a million U.S. school buses travel at least 4 billion miles every year, carrying approximately 25 million children to and from schools and school-related activities. Between 2005 and 2014, fatalities resulting from school bus accidents represented less than one-half of one percent of all fatal vehicle accidents.
Injury statistics for school bus accidents are difficult to come by, but an American Academy of Pediatrics study published in 2016 estimated that about 17,000 children are injured on school buses each year. And less than half of those injuries are the result of a crash.
State School Bus Seatbelt Laws
While there is no federal mandate for school bus safety harnesses, a few states have taken initiative in this area.
- California legislated school bus seat belts in 2004 and 2005, requiring lap and shoulder belts on all school buses manufactured after the laws were implemented.
- Florida calls for seat belts or restraint systems in buses purchased in 2001 and after, with certain exceptions.
- Louisiana required that school buses be equipped with seat belts after June of 2005, but only if there is sufficient funding.
- New Jersey requires federal standard lap belts or other restraint systems in school buses, and calls for students to use them while the bus is moving. But liability is waived for bus owners and operators if passengers don’t comply.
- New York has required seat belts in large school buses since 1987.
- Texas has required 3-point seat belts in buses since 2010, but only if adequate funding is available.
In its most recent recommendation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reversed its former policy on school bus seatbelt use. In 2015, the NHTSA issued a public endorsement for the use of 3-point lap and shoulder belts on all school buses that weigh no more than 10,000 pounds. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reported that in 2016, ten states reviewed the need for a legislative change in school bus safety belt use.
Common Carrier Accidents
Buses are categorized as common carriers. This means they transport people or goods for a fee. These carriers are legally compelled to provide their passengers a high level of care to ensure safety. If a bus driver’s negligence results in an accident, they may be liable for any resulting damages. However, the driver is rarely the only responsible party. Often, the following other entities/individuals share a portion of the liability for a bus accident:
- Bus company
- Charter/Tour company
- Driver(s) of the other vehicle(s) involved in the collision
Some common causes of bus accidents include the following:
- Negligent Vehicle Operation
- Poor Visibility
- Inadequate Driver Training
- Maintenance issues
If you were injured in a bus accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, losses and damages. Where the accident involves a public entity, city or state bus, etc. a different set of rules may apply, including strict time constraints. Contact an experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer to discuss your claim and learn about your options.