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Michael J. Duber and Brandon T. Duber

School bus safety a growing concern in Ohio after fatal accident

Sep 14, 2023 |

When Ohio parents put their children on a school bus, they are doing so under the assumption that safety will be a priority. Unfortunately, accidents happen and children can be hurt or lose their lives. What many parents might not know is that there is no mandate that school buses have seat belts.

This information is receiving renewed scrutiny after a school bus crash in which 23 were injured and one child was killed. Given the chance of catastrophic results, parents need to be fully aware of their rights if their child was involved in this type of accident.

School bus accidents can be serious

Only eight states have a school bus seat belt requirement and Ohio is not one of them. While school bus collisions in which students are injured are relatively rare, the current landscape is increasing worry that kids are in jeopardy. More and more drivers are distracted, under the influence or behave recklessly. This is putting everyone in danger, especially children.

The National Transportation Safety Board issued a recommendation for seat belts on school buses, but it cannot order it. This is a state issue and most do not require it. The NTSB reports that in the decade from 2011 to 2020, slightly more than 1,000 fatal school bus accidents occurred.

From 2018 to 2022, Ohio had nearly 5,500 school bus accidents. There were seven fatalities, 68 suspected serious injuries, 384 suspected minor injuries and 357 potential injuries. More than 4,600 accidents only resulted in damaged property. A potential school bus seat belt law was up for consideration by state lawmakers in 2018, but it did not go beyond committee.

Knowledge is key after school bus crashes

The bus involved in the Ohio accident did not have any seat belts installed. Although this recent death was the first school bus fatality in the state in 13 years, that does not eliminate the understandable fear.

Even if a child survives a school bus accident, they could face injuries that require hospitalization, extended rehabilitation and long-term disability.

As with all motor vehicle accidents, the investigation as to how it happened is essential to keeping all options open to determine who was responsible and respond accordingly.

These cases can be serious and knowing what a child and their family might contend with in the short and long term is critical from the outset.