Although we don’t like to think about it, school bus accidents may be more common than one might imagine. According to the National Coalition for School Bus Safety, over 22 million children ride school buses every day in America, and a surprising number of transportation accidents occur. Just last month, a school bus crashed into a Subaru in Bushwick, according to a report from CBS New York. It left 14 people injured, including 11 children. This story has been a hot topic in New York news because the school bus driver involved in the accident was actually part of a non-union company brought in to run the buses while the union drivers were on strike.
The Recent Crash in Bushwick
In the accident that resulted in the hospitalization of 11 schoolchildren, critics argued that the use of non-union drivers led to the crash. The Local 1181 Amalgamated Transit Union shop steward gave a statement for a press release and argued, “Union drivers are safe. Non-union drivers are not safe.”
The crash occurred on the same day that mayor Bloomberg “opened up bids to pick up the most competitive bus companies.” The drivers had planned to strike until Bloomberg and New York City agreed to include a security clause in their contracts–the drivers wanted assurance that job security provisions would be part of any competitive bidding process, but “the city insisted that any such move would be illegal.”
The strike ended soon after, but no school bus safety issues came to light, and according to a New York Times article, the striking workers’ efforts “bore no immediate fruit.”
How Frequent are School Bus Accidents?
The crash in Bushwick is just one example of accidents involving school buses in our region. A similar crash made news last September when a school bus collided with two motor vehicles on Staten Island, causing at least four persons to be seriously injured. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests that these accidents may occur more frequently than we know.
The NHTSA categorizes these accidents as “school transportation-related crashes,” and it defines them as crashes that “involve, either directly or indirectly, a school bus body vehicle, or a non-school bus functioning as a school bus, transporting children to or from school or school-related activities.” In short, the definition includes any school bus that transports children to and from school, or school-related activities.
Between 1998 and 2008, the NHTSA identified more than 414,000 fatal motor vehicle accidents, and approximately 1,400 of these involved school buses. In fact, these statistics showed that an average of 19 schoolchildren die each year in a school transportation-related accident, and nearly half of these kids are between the ages of 5 and 7.
The NHTSA updated this study in 2010 and found slightly improved results: approximately 34 percent of all motor vehicle accidents are school transportation-related crashes, and an average of 18 schoolchildren were killed in these accidents between 2001 and 2010.
While the number of school bus crashes is much lower than the national average for motor vehicle accidents, it’s still upsetting to read news about these incidents. And who is at fault? Often, the weather can lead to poor visibility and other harmful road conditions. But more often, it seems, a driver’s negligence leads to the accident. Recent reports across the country cite school bus drivers running red lights, failing to signal, and speeding just before an accident occurs.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a school transportation-related accident, you may have a claim. Contact an experienced attorney today to discuss your case.