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Are school buses safe?

Every parent knows the worry that comes with putting a child on a school bus. Some wonder if the vehicles are safe.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses are some of the safest vehicles on the road. This, the NHTSA claims, is because school buses must adhere to a long list of safety regulations.

Because of these regulations, the NHTSA says children are 70% more likely to arrive at school safely when traveling in a school bus than in a car.

The most obvious of these regulations requires school buses to be highly visible. This is why they are usually yellow or some other bright color. School buses must also be built with flashing lights, extended side-view mirrors, stop sign arms, padded seat backs and rollover protection features. One of the guiding principles of their design is compartmentalization, meaning that the impact of a crash is localized to one part of the vehicle, so it is not distributed to all the passengers on the bus.

One aspect of school buses that generates the most concern among parents is their lack of seat belts. However, the NHTSA says the other safety features of school bus design mean the lack of seat belts does not present a serious safety risk. It is only smaller school buses that are legally required to have seat belts.

Still, school bus accidents do happen. Statistically, the greatest risks to children come when they are boarding or leaving the bus.

When a school bus driver causes injury through negligence, the injured party or their family members may hold the driver liable for their damages. In these cases, they can also generally hold the school district or other parties liable as well. These cases can be legally complicated and emotionally difficult, and require help from an experienced attorney.

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