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Accidents raise questions about school bus safety

Although the National Traffic Safety Administration calls school buses one of the safest ways to getting around, a number of accidents involving buses have caused some experts to question the veracity of that claim. And parents should take notice of a rash of recent accidents.

In Florida, a serious car accident involving a school bus left a 9-year-old boy dead and 12 other children injured. The Florida Highway Patrol discovered that the victim's seat belt was too loose, causing the impact to violently eject him from his seat. A more recent bus crash in another state left more than 30 children injured, with fatal school bus accidents occurring in two more states during the preceding week.

In some cases, children hurt in traffic accidents involving school buses and their families may be entitled to damages compensating them for their medical bills, as well as the pain and suffering caused by their injuries.

According to Florida law, school buses bought any time after December 30, 2000, must have seat belts installed. However, many Florida school districts still use older buses that are not outfitted with proper safety measures. Furthermore, bus drivers, teachers or volunteers who fail to ensure a child's seat belt is secured are immune from liability in the event that a child is injured in a crash. This has prompted some lawyers and other legal experts to call for changes to Florida's laws concerning school buses. One attorney suggested that school bus drivers be required to inspect the seat belt of every child on their bus before departing.

Additionally, data from the Florida Department of Education shows that more than 21,000 motorists illegally pass school buses on a typical day in Florida alone, making it particularly dangerous for children boarding or getting off a school bus.

Source: Huffington Post, "Are School Buses Dangerous?" Spencer Aronfeld, Sep. 11, 2012

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