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Bus Accidents - How Safe Is Your Bus?

Steve Wagner

In 2011 (the most recent year for comprehensive statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), 13,000 people were injured in accidents involving buses of all kinds. That number accounts for .8% of all Motor Vehicle accident injuries that year in the United States. 210 of those injuries occurred in Indiana, accounting for .4% of all Indiana Motor Vehicle Crash Injuries in 2011.

Among those crashes, seven people suffered fatalities as a result of bus accidents, accounting for .7% of all Indiana Motor Vehicle fatalities in 2011.

There are several different types of buses (private & non-business related buses, school buses, and commercial/interstate buses), and all are under strict safety regulations to monitor the safety of the passengers on board. No matter what type of bus being driven, drivers also have to undergo special testing and have designated insurance before they are allowed behind the wheel of any of these vehicles.

State law requires that school buses be inspected at least once per year, which we know from experience doesn’t always happen. Buses that are 12 years or older must be inspected at least twice per year. In addition to professional inspections (performed by the Indiana State Police), bus drivers are required to do pre-drive and post-drive inspections on their buses, in order to maintain the condition and be aware of any possible malfunctions the vehicles may face.

If you are riding on a commercial interstate/intrastate bus, be aware that they are also required to undergo inspection at least once per year, and that all emergency exits, windows, and door marking lights must be inspected every 90 days.

If you are on a private/non-commercial bus, you should know that while they are legally required to undergo yearly inspections, they are not mandated to be inspected by federally regulated companies, and they are also not required to submit inspection reports to the authorities, or make those records public.

Even though buses undergo stringent testing, most buses still do not have seat belts installed. Estimates state that it would require between $7-10,000 to install seat belts on most large buses, so while the expense is great, it is the safety of our children (and ourselves) being sacrificed. Indiana children are required by law to ride in a safety seat or booster seat until at least the age of 8, while the American Academy of Pediatrics goes even further to recommend that children ride in a safety seat or booster seat until they reach the height of 4’9” or are 12-years-old, whichever occurs first.

Yet, we put our children on school buses each day without any type of seat belt restraint whatsoever? There is no logic or safety in these actions, and children are injured and killed each year as a result of bus accidents. If they were restrained on these buses, how many injuries and fatalities could be avoided? How many lives could be saved?

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury as the result of a bus accident, or if you have suffered the wrongful death of a loved one due to an accident of this nature, the bus accident lawyers at Wagner Reese can assist you in recovering the damages you deserve as a result of your suffering. Give us a call today at (888) 204-8440 for more information, and to schedule a no-cost consultation.

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