They are our nation's most important resource and more precious to their parents than the finest gold: our children. From the day they are born, parents worry about their children's safety. The school bus driver is among the first non-relatives that many parents trust to help keep their little ones safe and secure. It is an important trust that also extends to the bus manufacturers, operators, other young riders, and even people sharing the road with the vehicles who share the responsibility for school bus safety. When the bus ride leads to injury or death, our Panama City school bus safety lawyer advocates for the children and their families, obtaining damages and uncovering root causes to help ensure the tragedy is never repeated.
As reported by WMBB, National School Bus Safety Week serves as a reminder of this crucial segment of our transportation system. School bus drivers are on the front line of this safety fight, but Bay District officials are also charged with ensuring that school bus safety is a daily commitment. This includes addressing an aging fleet of buses. Recently the officials have spent upwards of $1.5 million to add 17 new buses to the fleet.
Additionally, the District is trying to equip all vehicles in the fleet, old and new alike, with up-to-date safety technology. During the summer of 2013, camera and GPS systems were installed at a cost of close to $400,000. A driver interviewed for the report said it is a positive for drivers and parents, and well worth the price tag. School officials plan to use the GPS systems in conjunction with student tracking cards, a project that will roll out in November starting with two of the District's elementary schools.
In June 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") released a fact sheet on crashes involving school transportation vehicles (school buses and other vehicles serving the same purpose) in the 2002-2011 time frame. School transportation related incidents accounted for 1,221 of a total 355,834 fatal motor vehicle collisions in the time span. While that may be only 0.34%, the accidents claimed 1,351 lives.
Most of the deaths were occupants of other vehicles (72%) and bus occupants represented 7% of the fatalities, for a total of 95 occupant deaths (41 drivers, 54 passengers). The remaining 21% were non-occupants, such as pedestrians or bicycle riders. A total of 123 school-age pedestrians died in crashes involving school transport vehicles during the 10-year span, including an annual average of 9 struck by school transportation vehicles and 4 struck by other vehicles involved in the collisions.
Overall, while these numbers suggest that school bus collisions are a small fraction of the accidents occurring annually on our roadways, they are a very real problem that claims very real lives every year. Further, the NHTSA sheet does not discuss the number of people injured in school transport accidents. Presumably this figure is significantly higher than the number of fatalities.
School safety has been on the national radar recently, with two separate tragedies involving violent acts shaking us all. School violence is an important issue, but we should remember it is far from the only safety issue impacting our school children. If your child is injured (we hate to even contemplate the phrase "if your child is killed") at or en route to school, call our Panama City school injury lawyer. Attorney Pittman can help you obtain money damages, ensure justice is served, and prevent the same tragedy from impacting another family.