Rash of School Bus Crashes in New Jersey Brings Safety Into Question
School buses generally provide a safe way to transport children to and from school. Although school bus accidents are rare, and injuries from those accidents occur less frequently than injuries from car accidents, parents throughout New Jersey are starting to second guess the safety of this mode of transportation.
These questions began after the state appeared to be going through a rash of car accidents with over 100 accidents reported to the Department of Education involving school buses within the state as of April 1, 2012.
These accidents range from fairly minor to catastrophic. One tragic accident involved a bus transporting elementary students in Chesterfield, a town located just south of Trenton, New Jersey. The bus was carrying 25 young students when it was struck by a dump truck. The collision caused the bus to crash sideways into a traffic pole. The accident resulted in the death of an 11 year-old girl, put three children in critical care and injured 17 other students.
Other accidents included a crash that involved a bus transporting high school students that collided with another vehicle on the highway injuring eight students. Another high school bus was hit by a vehicle entering an intersection. This crash was relatively minor and resulted in injury to only one student, while yet another led to injuries in at least 16 passengers.
Safety Regulations for School Buses
Even with the number of reported bus accidents, New Jersey officials continue to promote the safety of using school buses for transportation. They point to the fact that a bus is designed more like a tank than other vehicles on the road, reducing the risk of injury to passengers if the vehicle is involved in a crash.
The state also has a wide range of regulations designed to ensure school buses are safe. One measure involves the use of inspections. The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission inspects buses twice a year to check the vehicle’s tires, doors, emergency exits, crash barriers, brakes and safety equipment. Every year, the MVC removes almost 10,000 of the 23,000 operating school buses from use to make repairs.
The results of these inspections are available to the public on MVC’s website.
In addition, New Jersey is one of only six states that require seat belts on school buses. State law requires the students to wear the seat belts, but exempts the driver and owner of the buses from liability if the students do not buckle up. As a result, enforcing the use of seat belts on the bus can be difficult.
Whether or not a seat belt is used, a bus crash can result in injury. If you or a loved one is injured in a bus accident, compensation may be available to help cover the cost of medical and rehabilitative expenses. Contact an experienced car accident attorney to better protect your legal rights and remedies.