Today is the first day of school in New York City. Unfortunately, the excitement was marred by a school bus accident, causing injuries to six people. The bus collided with an SUV at 89th Avenue and 91st Street in Woodhaven, Queens. The incident occurred near P.S. 60 on 89th Avenue and 91 Street.
The bus apparently was not affiliated with the New York Department of Education (DOE) or with P.S. 60.
Thankfully, none of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening. However, the incident raises questions about the safety of the vehicles and drivers to whom we entrust our kids.
For example, seatbelts are installed on only about 20 percent of school buses in the United States. This means that only a small minority of the 26 million children who take buses to school will have the benefit of seat belts. New York is one of the states that has laws on the books regarding seat belt use in school buses. However, the degree to which seat belt use is enforced varies enormously.
On average, around six children die each year nationwide in school bus accidents. The translates to .2 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles, compared to a fatality rate of 1.44 deaths per 100 miles travelled in cars and trucks. However, even six deaths annually are too many. A recent study by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) showed that using seat belts – even lap belts – in school buses can significantly reduce serious injury and death.
According to Blue Bird, one of the biggest school bus companies in the U.S., kids are 20 times more likely to get to school alive in a school bus than if they are driven by a parent or sibling.
Source: AOL Autos, “Why Don’t Most School Buses Have Seat Belts?” Aug. 19, 2013.