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As the school year begins, we prepare our children for a safe and happy learning journey. To help with this, it is important to learn about the potential risks involved with heading back to school, including learning about the causes and frequency of school bus accidents. Here, we will explore the contributing factors, preventative measures, and ways we can collectively ensure the safety of our children.

Are School Bus Accidents Common?

Millions of children travel by school bus every day over the course of the school year. As parents, we entrust their safety to the drivers and bus companies that service school districts. School bus accidents, however, do happen. Before we dive into the frequency and causes of school bus accidents, it is worth highlighting that school bus travel is generally safer than using a private vehicle to transport your child to school. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that students are more likely to arrive safely to school when they take a bus instead of driving.

All this being said, the National Safety Council (NSC), using data from the NHTSA, reports that 108 people died in the U.S. in school bus-related crashes in 2021 alone. That same year, 9,7000 injuries were reported in school bus-related crashes.

So, what are the factors that contribute to causing school bus accidents? One of the most common causes of school bus accidents is driver error. Driver error can be anything from a school bus driver operating the bus while impaired by drugs or alcohol or it could be the driver engaging in distracted driving by using a phone while operating the bus. School bus drivers can also cause crashes by speeding, failing to yield, or engaging in other reckless driving behaviors.

Improper vehicle maintenance is another fairly common cause or contributing factor in school bus accidents. When improperly maintained, a bus can have faulty breaks or worn tires along with other mechanical issues that render it unsafe for the roadway. Another top cause of school bus accidents is inclement weather which leads to poor visibility and slippery roads.

As parents, there are ways that we can work to keep our kids safer on school buses. Much of this is advocating for comprehensive and frequent bus evacuation drills and safety education. There is no mandated bus evacuation drill in North Dakota. To help keep our kids safe, all children should have access to school bus evacuation drills and safety education. These drills should take place off of street and bus routes. To keep the process and learning fresh in students’ minds, they should be held often in the spring and the fall of the school year. During the drills, rear exit use and location should be highlighted. The location and use of all emergency exits should be included as well.

North Dakota Personal Injury Attorneys

At Pringle & Herigstad, we wish you a happy and safe school year for you and your family. If your student has been injured in a bus accident, we are here to help hold the responsible parties accountable for the harm they have caused. Contact us today.