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Questions about school bus safety?

With another school year about to start, it's a good time to focus on school bus safety. Do you realize that every school bus route removes potentially 36 vehicles from the roads in both the mornings and afternoons? School buses cut down on the congestion involved with parent drop-offs and pick-ups, too.

Because there are fewer vehicles on the roads when buses transport kids to school, the emission levels from cars and SUVs decline.

But just how safe are school buses?

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration claims that 58 percent of children who die while traveling to school during the normal times were riding in automobiles being driven by teens. Another 23 percent died in vehicles driven by adults. But children riding to school on the bus made up less than 1 percent of collision deaths. Statistics show that school buses are the safest way for children to get back and forth from school.

But why don't they come with seat belts?

School buses have enhanced structural integrity that is different from passenger vehicles. Kids are protected the way eggs are in a carton. They have padding all around them, seat backs are high, they are in compartments within the vehicle surrounded by a shell that's reinforced to protect them from impact.

Because school buses have to be multi-purpose, they must fit everyone from kindergarten on up to seniors in high school. They have to be able to transport a second grade class on a field trip and a football team to out-of-town games. With smaller, younger students, three can fit in a seat; older, larger kids might squeeze in two. Seat belts would not be practical on buses for these reasons.

While buses are safe modes of transportation for kids, if there is an accident and your child gets hurt, you may have to pursue a claim for damages to receive financial compensation for any injuries and medical expenses.

Source: American School Bus Council, "FAQ," accessed Aug. 12, 2016

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