On October 31, 2011, a University of Minnesota double-length bus was involved in a crash with a semi truck. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured in this truck-and-bus crash. This is just one of many Minnesota bus accidents that occur each year.
On the afternoon of Sept. 21, 2011, a metro transit bus stopped at the intersection of Pillsbury and Pleasant streets in the Twin Cities. After a traffic official directed the bus forward, a University of Minnesota student rode her bike along the same route. In seconds, Stanley and the bus collided.
Barely a few weeks earlier, the citizens of Minnesota had another bus-related scare. During the morning hours, a Shakopee school bus was travelling along Weston and 17th avenues when a car turned into the bus. None of the 58 middle and high school students was injured, but the motorist was taken to St. Francis Medical Center with injuries.
Bus Accident Statistics
In 2008, there were 293 bus accidents in Minnesota. One hundred twenty of these involved school buses, and another 86 involved metro transit buses. School and transit bus accidents accounted for more than 60 percent of all fatal bus crashes in the nation for that year. The State of Minnesota claimed at least three fatal bus crashes that same year.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 26,000 school bus accidents occur each year. An average of 21 school-age children die, and more than 9,500 children are injured, in school bus accidents annually.
Bus Safety Issues
Buses pose a unique traffic safety threat. While passenger cars have safety innovations such as air bags and seat belts, school buses and transit buses do not offer the same safety measures. Just this past May, the National Transportation Safety Board sought to address the need for tougher bus safety regulations.
Some safety advocates argue that states don’t have adequate bus inspection processes, as many of the fatal crashes involving buses this year were linked to illegal carriers or carriers with histories of safety violations. Similarly, improved bus safety plans should consider mechanical and safety enhancements, such as crush-proof roofs, better emergency exits and safety belts. A human element ” driver and passenger education” is also important.
In Minnesota, the Department of Public Safety has offered tips for making the state’s roads safe for all types of vehicles, passengers and pedestrians. Drivers are required to know bus safety laws, and parents are encouraged to educate their children about roadway safety.
In the case of bus accidents, crashes are preventable. As long as “safety first” represents more than a mantra, thousands of lives can be saved on our nation’s roads.