West Virginia requires school bus operators to complete a training program and earn a certification before they are permitted to get behind the wheel. Many other states have similar safety programs in place; however, accidents that involved school buses claimed the lives of 1,344 people between 2004 and 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The safety agency released a report containing data about these fatal accidents in June 2015.
In many ways, accidents involving school buses are similar to crashes involving other large commercial vehicles. It is the occupants of the other vehicles involved in the accident who account for the majority of the fatalities. According to the NHTSA data, 71 percent of those killed in school transportation-related accidents between 2004 and 2013 were traveling in cars, pickup trucks or SUVs.
The NHTSA figures also show that more school bus accidents occur in the afternoon than in the morning. There were 45 school bus drivers and 61 school bus passengers who lost their lives in these crashes. Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable in school bus accidents. The data reveals that 67 percent of the school-age children killed in these crashes were struck by a school bus. While three of these children were struck by a school bus that was entering or leaving a parked position, 40 of them were struck by a bus that was going straight.
Accidents that involve school buses can cause great emotional distress, and they also present a number of legal challenges if one of its passengers is injured. A personal injury attorney may seek punitive damages by demonstrating that the defendant's behavior amounted to a conscious and reckless indifference to others.
Source: The West Virginia Association for Pupil Transportation, West Virginia School Bus Operator Instructional Program, Accessed Aug. 3, 2015