Child Fatally Injured When School Bus Flips
Last week, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on a terribly sad Georgia school bus accident. With little detail but that the bus flipped on its side after traveling on a downhill curve on the road, we learned that a six year old child died after being taken to the hospital. The tragedy of one child being fatally injured is extremely painful for all involved. The community and her family are most certainly going through a very difficult time. Her classmates will need support after witnessing this bus accident. Thankfully, the other children on the bus were not injured seriously. Several of them and the driver had minor injuries only. This type of bus accident can happen anywhere, from Gwinnett County and across the state. When it does, there is great sadness in its wake.
When we send our children to school on the school bus, it is unthinkable that they might not return home safely. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gathers statistics on many aspects of our highway safety. The school bus statistics gathered over a nearly ten year period show that school buses are relatively safe. Although we all would prefer that no child be harmed on a school bus, there are about 130 school bus fatalities per year in our country. A child is more likely to sustain a fatal injury in other types of vehicles than a school bus. These vehicles are built to protect the occupants.
School Bus Seat Belts are Not Required by Law
According to NHTSA, school kids are far more likely to be injured being driven to school in a passenger vehicle than being taken in a school bus. School buses are specifically mandated to have inherent safety features. For example, their color is most visible on the road. The seats create a compartmentalized protection for kids. The more dangerous part of the school bus experience is getting on and off the bus, which is why all states require the stop arms that are meant to keep drivers from driving past the bus while kids are present.
For some time now there has been a national conversation about whether seat belts should be required on school buses. Seat belts could help avoid one of the most common dangers of buses in general and that is the risk of ejection in a crash. The only required seat belts are for school buses that weigh less than 10,000 pounds. This requirement is for a three point restraint, not simply a lap restraint. Some states do not participate in this requirement.
Currently, there are no legal requirements or regulations that would require seat belts on Georgia’s school buses. However, some Georgia school districts are adding buses with seat belts for the children. And six states across the country now have laws that require these restraints in school buses.
We do not know whether this child would have been saved had she had a seat belt available or in use. Some school bus accidents, such as a flip like this one, are more likely to lead to serious or fatal injury for the occupants. Although school buses are statistically safer than other vehicles, it would seem that saving the life of one child would justify the expense involved in retrofitting or buying new buses for the future.
Scholle Law is a Gwinnett County injury law firm. We want your kids to stay safe in and around school buses. Our hearts go out to the family of the little girl whose life ended in such tragedy. We appreciate all our Georgia communities and we are here to serve them with the highest level of professionalism in law practice. You can contact us at any time for help.