School Bus Safety in Texas

October 6th, 2017 by Guajardo & Marks, LLP

The Dallas Independent School District is comprised of 156 elementary schools and 84 secondary schools, for a total of 239 schools serving children from first through 12th grades serving roughly 157,000 students, according to the district’s Web Site. Overall, the state had roughly 5.1 million students in 1,227 school districts in 2015 — or, as the Texas Tribune points out, more students than there are residents in 28 states.

Texas Statistics

Transporting those students to and from school is obviously a monumental task. The  Killeen Daily Herald points out that around 1.5 million students ride to and from school each morning on about 35,000 school buses, Statistically speaking, with that many students on that many buses, numerous accidents are bound to happen, and they have: the paper reports that in the last five years, 122,212 students have been in 11,444 bus accidents involving a total of 9,925 school buses.

In Comparison to the Nation

These statistics are microcosms of national trends. The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), in its 2005 study, reports that 25 million children ride a school bus every day; during the time period studied, crashes involving those school buses killed 130 people and injured an estimated 11,000, and 10 percent of the deaths and 50 percent of the injuries were passengers.

While the NHTSA points out that the school bus is by far the safest means of transportation going to and from school, many accidents are preventable. Several websites have tips for safety while riding a bus that could potentially save lives. The site Culture of Safety lists several for students, including:

While Riding

  • Stay in your seat.
  • Do not distract the driver.
  • Be orderly.
  • Keep your body in the bus.

Getting on the Bus

  • Wait until the bus is completely stopped.
  • Stay away from traffic.
  • Use the handrail.

Getting off the Bus

  • Don’t cross the street unless 10 feet in front of bus.
  • Again, use the handrail for safety.
  • Make sure no one is passing from behind the bus.

Tips are also available to help bus drivers prevent accidents. The site Track School Bus offers several:

  • Don’t drive recklessly because you want to stay on schedule.
  • Be on time to start.
  • Concentrate on traffic.
  • Don’t get distracted by music or phones.
  • Don’t move the bus until everyone is seated.
  • Keep headlights on, even during the day.
  • Read the manuals; be prepared for any emergency.
  • Pay attention to road conditions; listen to weather and traffic advisories.
  • If stuck on railroad tracks, empty the bus immediately.
  • Check to make sure the bus is empty after the final stop.

While the school bus driver and students themselves may follow all the rules, it may be all for naught if those that share the road with the buses don’t pay attention. The National Safety Council (NSC) also offers tips for sharing the road safely with school buses:

  • Avoid passing a bus from behind, or from other directions.
  • If the arm is extended, all traffic must stop, no matter the proximity; it is illegal to pass a school bus when the stop sign is in effect.
  • Pay attention: children are often unpredictable and may not remember or adhere to all safety procedures.

Accidents happen, and by their very nature are often unpredictable. Aside from the specifics, the bottom line is to remember this: Whether you are a student, a bus driver or another driver sharing the road, your vigilance and attention may help prevent an accident and tragic injuries.

With more than 50 years of legal experience between them, the partners of Guajardo & Marks of Dallas have the knowledge and resources to help with your legal needs. If you have questions or would like to set up an appointment, contact us online or call us at 972.774.9800.