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Keeping Florida Children Safe in School Buses

Although Florida bus accidents are not very common, any bus accident is too many. Bus accidents lead to fatalities, permanent disability, brain injuries, broken limbs, disfigurement, burn injuries, spinal cord injuries, and much more. Obviously, they also cause immense distress for entire families. Since children are small and since most buses do not have safety belts, even minor accidents in a school bus can lead to serious injuries for children and minors.

Statistics show that, on average, about 20 students are killed each year in bus accidents. Another 6000 students are injured in bus-related accidents annually. While small buses that weigh less than 10,000 pounds are required by federal law to have seat belts, larges buses of at least 25,000 pounds do not need seat belts. Many experts think that increased seat belt availability would decrease fatalities and injuries, but not all experts agree. According to 2002 findings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts that close around the lap increase the chances that a child in a school bus accident will sustain serious abdominal or neck injuries. The same study concluded that most children and minors wear shoulder-style safety belts incorrectly and therefore run greater chances of more injury.

According to the National Safety Council students can decrease their risk of injury during the school year by:

1) Waiting for the school bus away from the street and traffic. A safe area to wait for the bus is important, since not all school bus accidents occur while a student is on board a bus. Many injuries occur while a child is getting on or off a school bus.

2) Keeping away from the bus until the vehicle has come to a complete stop and the bus driver signals the student to enter. School buses – especially the larger models – have many blind spots and it is important for a student to make sure that the driver sees him or her.

3) Keeping a distance. When exiting a bus, a student should leave promptly and take at least 10 large steps away from the bus. Students should always keep a large distance between themselves and a bus, as this gives the driver more visibility. Drivers cannot always see students standing very close to the bus, and this can cause accidents.

4) Using handrails. When entering and exiting a school bus, children should use handrails to prevent slipping and falling. Not all school bus injuries occur while the bus is in motion and a fall down the stairs of a bus can result in injury.

5) Staying alert of traffic when exiting and entering a school bus. Drivers are expected to follow certain rules when around school buses, but not all drivers do. Students should be taught to be alert for drivers not obeying traffic rules.