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How to prevent school bus accidents and injuries

While many have fond nostalgic memories associated with riding the bus to school, incidents of accidents involving school buses seem to be on the rise. Recent news reports from around the country detail school bus accidents which result in mangled and tipped over buses and severe child injuries. These images and reports are alarming to parents and safety officials who question the safety of our nation's school buses.

One issue at the center of recent debate centers on school bus seat belt laws. While some states, like Louisiana, do require seat belt use on school buses many do not. Some believe having seat belt laws would help decrease school bus injuries, however those against mandatory seat belt laws argue that incidences of school bus-related injuries remain very low. In fact an estimated 24 million children take a school bus every day and there were only 17,000 children treated for school bus related injuries last year.

While instances of school bus injuries and accidents are low, those in favor of school bus seat belt laws contend seat belts would only serve to further decrease instances of school bus injuries and fatalities.

In addition to concerns over school bus seat belt usage, many are also concerned over other safety issues that arise due to the lack of general supervision on school buses. Kids on buses often engage in disruptive behavior and move around freely while the bus is moving. Aside from the bus driver, there are no adults present to police unruly behavior and kids often engage in bullying and fighting.

When children do misbehave, it's typically up to the bus driver to enforce discipline and report the behavior to school administrators. However, for most bus drivers, it's all they can do to try to drown out distractions and focus on the road and their driving.

When school bus accidents occur, they often result in serious injuries that require medical treatment. Parents who have children that ride the bus should speak with school administrators to find out how school bus safety measures are promoted and enforced. Likewise, they should speak with their sons and daughters about acceptable school bus behavior.

Source: The Huffington Post, "School Bus Accidents in the News: Are Your Children Safe?," Meryl Ain, Mar. 15, 2012

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