Approximately 25 million students across the U.S. take the bus to school every day. School buses are 70 times safer than traveling by car (Source: National Highway Transportation Safety Administration), which is largely due to the design of the school bus and how each state regulates them.
School buses are designed to both prevent collisions and perform well in a crash. There are some safety options that may be familiar to parents (ex: highly-visible color, back-up alarm, cross-view mirrors); however, Atlanta Personal Injury Law Group – Gore is highlighting some safety features now standard on newer school bus models.
Brakes: school buses are required to have to highest rated braking system available for the vehicle’s GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating).
Barriers: school buses have barriers installed in between the seat and the driver, and also in front of the stairwell, to ensure the students do not slip into the driver’s area or step well.
Child Check System: this system activates along with the warning light system and/or when the bus has been running for 10 minutes or longer. Once the child check system activates, the bus driver must turn off the ignition and operate a deactivation switch at the back of the bus. The vehicle’s interior dome lights will illuminate for 60-seconds. If the driver does not follow this procedure, an alarm will sound.
Crossing Gate / Crossing Control Arm: school bus crossing gates/control arms are mounted to the front bumper of the bus and will swing out when the door is opened. The gate/arm prevents children from walking too close to the bus.
Emergency Exits: each bus is equipped with an emergency exit door, an emergency exit on the roof of the bus, and emergency push-out windows.
Fire Extinguisher and First-Aid Kit: every bus is required to have at least one fire extinguisher and one first-aid kit on board.
Non-Skid Floor Covering: to prevent students from slipping or falling while on the school bus, the floor of the vehicle is covered with a special non-skid safety material.
Protective Passenger Seating: the seats on a school bus are designed to absorb the impact of a collision. School bus seats feature high backs and specially-designed cushions; the seats are also installed close together on the vehicle for maximum protection.
Rollover Protection Features: the body of the school bus (especially the roof and side panels) are designed to withstand the impact of a collision and the force of a rollover crash.
Stop Arms: these devices are installed on the left outside of the school bus, and are equipped with reflective lettering and high intensity, red flashing lights. The bus driver extends the stop arm to indicate to surrounding motorists that the bus has stopped and students are either about to board or leave the bus. Some stop arms are also equipped with cameras, in an effort to capture any motorists who are violating school bus safety rules.
Warning Lights: installed on each bus is a series of white, yellow, and/or red flashing lights to increase visibility of the bus or to indicate to surrounding drivers that the bus is stopping or has stopped.
In addition to these safety features, Georgia law also requires that each school bus owned/operated by a state, county, or municipal government be inspected each year to ensure school bus safety. Officers with the Motor Carrier Compliance Division thoroughly inspect the bus from top to bottom, which includes checking the tires, brakes, exhaust system, engine, all light systems, and the mirrors.
If you know someone who has been injured in a collision and needs help with their personal injury case, call Atlanta Personal Injury Law Group – Gore at (404) 436-1529.