It is back-to-school time in Massachusetts! Whether students are going to public or private school, kindergarten or twelfth grade, it is time for parents to rush to the store, buy school supplies, and brush up on their math. It is also time for parents to send their kids off to school on school buses, which means brushing up on school bus safety.
School buses are the safest mode of transportation for students, not only because of their size but also because of how seats are constructed. Like many states, Massachusetts does not require school buses to have seat belts for children. While many parents are concerned about their children riding school buses without seatbelts and many communities can require school buses to have seatbelts, studies have shown that buses with padded seats that are higher in the back and have short front to back seat spacing are safer for young students. Bus drivers are required to wear seatbelts while driving.
While school buses are very safe for students, there are still significant safety risks. School buses are big and as such have blind spots that can cause injury. While many school bus related accidents are with other motor vehicles, school-aged children can also be at risk. As students get on and off the bus, they are at risk of being struck by passing traffic or bus drivers who cannot see pedestrians, because of their blind spots. Unfortunately, these accidents can result in serious injuries and wrongful death.
According to the most recent Traffic Safety Report from the United States Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there have been 1,386 fatalities in school transportation-related accidents since 2000. The report found that that of these fatalities, 130 were pedestrians under the age of 19, most of whom were struck by school buses. Children from ages 4 to 7 are at the highest risk of injury.
In Massachusetts, approximately 400,000 students use the bus to get to school. In attempt to create a safer environment and teach students about how safely board buses, Massachusetts Board of Education require that all students receive classroom bus safety instruction three times a year.
So, as parents begin preparing for the new school year, they should also take proper precautions. Here are some tips to follow if your child takes a school bus.
- Prior to the start of the school year, bring your children to the bus stop so that they become familiar with where the bus picks and drops them off.
- Bring young children to the bus stop at least five minutes before the scheduled arrival time.
- Remind children not to run and play at the bus stop.
- Teach young children to never walk behind the school bus and make eye contact with the bus driver before crossing so the driver can see the student and direct them to cross.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a school bus accident, call us today at 617-225-2100 to learn more about how we can help.