New Jersey School Bus Crash Raises Safety Questions

front section of a school bus with heat exchanger exposed

School Bus Collision Prompts Safety Experts to Reconsider Seat Belts and Personal Injury Accident Prevention

When parents send their kids to school or school-related activities on a school bus, they expect that the bus driver will take all necessary safety precautions in order to avoid a serious or even fatal bus accident. However, school bus accidents—like other motor vehicle crashes—do happen, and children can sustain severe injuries. According to a recent report from CNN, a devastating school bus crash occurred earlier this month in New Jersey, resulting in the deaths of at least two people. As the report explains, the collision has many safety advocates questioning the value of school bus seat belts and other ways to keep children safe in the event of a personal injury accident involving a bus. If your child has been injured in a school bus accident, contact a bus accident lawyer today.

A follow-up CNN report discusses the recent school bus accident on Interstate 80, which involved a school bus colliding with a dump truck in Morris County, New Jersey. Shortly after the crash, at least two people—including one child—were declared dead, while many others were injured and listed as being in critical condition. When the bus crashed, it had been carrying 38 students in fifth grade and seven adults. More than 40 people suffered injuries in the crash.

While the collision remains under investigation, parents and child safety advocates are wondering whether school bus seat belts are sufficient to prevent injuries in the event of a serious crash. Currently, federal law requires school buses that weigh 10,000 pounds or less to have lap-shoulder belts. New Jersey is also one of seven states in the country that requires school buses to have safety belts. Under New Jersey law, students can also be sanctioned for refusing to wear a school bus seat belt. Are these lap-shoulder seat belts really sufficient in preventing personal injuries? Could better seat belt systems actually have prevented the deaths and severe injuries that did occur?

School bus seat belts may have saved the lives of some of the people on board, yet child safety advocates argue that more stringent seat belt laws and safer seatbelts could help avoid severe personal injury accidents.

School Bus Safety Tips

What can parents do to encourage safe behavior and injury prevention on school buses? A tip sheet from recommends the following:

  • Walk your kids to the bus stop and wait with them until the bus arrives at the bus top;
  • Teach your children to stand “at least three giant steps” away from the curb when the bus is approaching;
  • Teach your children to wait to move toward the bus until it has come to a complete stop;
  • Encourage your child to use handrails when boarding or exiting the bus;
  • Instruct your child to take “five giant steps in front of the bus” if he or she needs to cross the street in front of the school bus; and
  • Tell your child to use his or her seat belt every time on the bus.

If you have questions about filing a claim after a school bus crash, a bus accident lawyer can help.

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