School bus accidents are among the most tragic of all motor vehicle accidents due to the inherent involvement of young children. As a result, substantial damages are often at issue in cases of this type, and vigorous representation is required to bring all responsible parties to justice. If your child has been injured in a school bus accident, contact Zalman, Schnurman & Miner P.C. today to discuss your legal options. In New York, seatbelts are required for any school bus or other motor vehicle used for the transportation of schoolchildren. 15 N.Y.C.R.R. §49.6. There are, however, certain exceptions for older school buses in use prior to the effective date of the relevant regulations and statutes. N.Y. Educ. Law §3635-a. Also, school districts and school bus drivers may not ordinarily be held liable for personal injuries solely because an injured passenger was not wearing a seat belt, unless the municipal employees failed to properly maintain the seatbelt equipment or failed to comply with applicable statutes, rules, or regulations. N.Y. Educ. Law §3813(4).
A school bus–related crash is a crash which involves, either directly or indirectly, a school bus–type vehicle, or a vehicle functioning as a school bus, transporting children to or from school or school-related activities. Since 2001, there have been about 363,839 fatal traffic crashes. Of those, 0.34 percent (1,236) were classified as school transportation–related. Since 2001, 1,368 people have died in school transportation–related crashes — an average of 137 fatalities per year. Most of the people who lost their lives in those crashes (72%) were occupants of other vehicles involved. Nonoccupants (pedestrians, bicyclists, etc.) accounted for 21% of the deaths, and occupants of school transportation vehicles accounted for 7%.
Since 2001, 123 school-age pedestrians (younger than 19) have died in school transportation–related crashes. Nearly two-thirds (69%) were killed by school buses, 5% by vehicles functioning as school buses, and 26% by other vehicles involved in the crashes. There were 49 (40%) school-age pedestrians killed in school transportation–related crashes between the ages of 5 and 7.
More school-age pedestrians are killed in the afternoon than in the morning, with 28% of the fatalities occurring in crashes between 3 and 4 p.m. Between 2001 and 2010, 84 crashes occurred in which at least one occupant of a school transportation vehicle died. Over half of those crashes (56%) involved at least one other vehicle. In 49 percent of all crashes involving fatalities to occupants of a school transportation vehicle, the principal point of impact was the front of the vehicle. Since 2001, only 3 drivers and one passenger have died in school bus body vehicles providing transportation for purposes other than school or school-related activities (churches, civic organizations, etc.). In 1987, one such multi-vehicle crash resulted in the deaths of 27 occupants, including the driver.