Bus transport is safe compared to cars. However, it has greater potential for damage and injuries due to the many passengers that a bus holds.

Buses are also of different types with different safety regulations, which affect the safety regulations and sometimes, the accident statistics. For example, school buses have stricter laws compared to regular buses, which also have stiffer laws compared to cars.

In this article, the Orange County Personal Injury Attorney will discuss major bus accident statistics, including fatalities, vehicle types, and the common causes of these accidents.

Overview of Bus Accidents

More than 2 million people in California commute to work using buses, which is about 65% of all people who commute to work by public transits. Other commuters rely on other means such as trains to get them to and from work.

Children also rely on bus transport to get to and from school, with about 3 million children traveling by school bus every day.

Besides commuting to work and going to school, bus transport serves tourists and other bus users every day.

The federal government and the Californian government regulate commercial vehicles, including buses, school buses, and trucks, to ensure compliance with high care and safety standards.

These standards apply to manufacturers, fleet owners, transportation companies, and bus drivers to ensure that their vehicles are as safe as possible.

With buses carrying millions of people every day, their traffic on the roads is also significant, thus increasing the risk of an accident.

Bus accidents could involve other vehicles, passengers, or the bus alone (for example, where a bus veers off a cliff). Regardless of the vehicles involved in the accident, bus accidents can be severe and lead to significant property damage, injuries, and fatalities.

Buses, for the purpose of California law, are defined as vehicles designed to transport at least nine passengers, including the driver.

School Bus Accident Statistics

The US has about 450,000 public school buses, covering more than 4 billion miles every year and transporting more than 23 million children to and from school and school-related activities such as sports.

Generally, school buses are eight times safer than driving your child to these activities by car. And while school bus accidents occur, they have a fatality rate of 0.2 for every 100 million vehicle miles traveled, which is lower than that of cars at 1.5 fatalities for every 100 million-vehicle miles.

School buses incorporate compartmentalization as a safety feature achieved through closely spaced seats. These seats also have a high shock-absorbency rate, which reduces the impact of the crash on the passengers.

In 2018, 117 people died in school bus-related crashes. In most school bus accidents, 70% of the fatalities were occupants in other vehicles, 5% were passengers on the school bus, 4% were school bus drivers, and 17% were pedestrians.

Here are some quick facts about school bus-related traffic accidents between 2009 and 2018:

  • 3% of fatal motor vehicle crashes between 2009 and 2018 involved school buses amounting to 1,083 crashes.
  • 1,207 people died in school-transportation-related accidents between 2009 and 2018 (an average of 121 fatalities annually), with 249 (21%) of these deaths among school-age children.
  • 121 occupants of other vehicles, 66 passengers of the school bus, and 55 drivers died in these school-bus-related accidents within the same ten-year period.
  • Pedestrians had twice the fatality rate as passengers in school vehicles.
  • 249 school-age children (under 18 years) were killed in school-transportation related crashes. Out of these, 52 were in school-transportation vehicles, 100 were pedestrians, 92 occupied other vehicles, four were cyclists, and one was a non-occupant.
  • More than half of the school-age children who died in school transportation crashes were aged between 5 and 10 years.
  • More than 50% of the school-age children died within the same ten-year period between six and 8 am and between three and 3.59 pm.
  • Close to 48% of the school-age children who died as pedestrians were struck by school buses or vehicles operating as school buses
  • 41 school vehicles were involved in single-vehicle crashes while 57 were involved in multiple-vehicle crashes with fatalities of 51 and 70, respectively.
  • 18% of the school-age children were killed at intersections, with 77% being killed in other road areas.
  • 68 school-age children were killed by vehicles going straight, one by a bus slowing down, 3 by an accelerating vehicle, 10 by buses starting on the road, 3 by cars turning right, 6 by cars turning left, and 5 by cars negotiating a turn.

Non-School Transportation Bus Accident Statistics

School bus accidents are treated differently with stricter regulations compared to other forms of public transport. Such regulations have made them the safest road transport means for school-going children.

Other buses, such as tour buses and public transit vehicles, are still safer than smaller cars, but they have significant potential for fatalities and property damage compared to smaller cars.

Some of the significant bus accident statistics from the FMCSA 2017 report include:

  • 232 buses were involved in 232 fatal crashes with 44 fatalities and 15000 injuries in 2017
  • 52,000 buses were involved in crashes that resulted in property damage only in the same year
  • A breakdown of these statistics by the type of bus involved in a fatal crash (except school buses) for 2017 includes 13 fatal accidents by intercity buses, 95 by transit buses, 32 fatalities by van-based buses, 15 by other bus types, and 4 fatalities from unknown buses.
  • Six people died in intercity buses, 4 in transit buses, and 24 in van-based buses with one being killed in an unknown bus type. These fatalities were occupants in buses involved in fatal crashes.
  • 32,519 people were killed in crashes involving passenger vehicles (including buses) as follows: 2070 of them were below 17 years, 5747 between 18 and 25 years, 5633 were between 26 and 35 years, 4256 were between 36 and 45 years, 4479 were between 46 and 55 years, 4338 were between 56 and 65, 2822 were 66 and 75 and 3062 were older than 76. From the numbers, more males than females died in crashes in 2017.
  • In 2017, more than 2.6 million people were injured in crashes involving passenger vehicles, including buses.
  • 230 bus drivers were killed in fatal bus crashes in 2017, with the average age of these drivers being 51.6 years. Out of these, 156 of the drivers were male, and 74 were female.

In 2017, the statistics for people and vehicles involved in fatal bus crashes include:

  • 109 vehicles and 165 people were involved in crashes between buses and other passenger cars, with 95 of these people dying
  • 72 vehicles and 101 people were involved in crashes between buses and light trucks, resulting in 56 fatalities
  • 26 vehicles and 30 people were involved in fatal bus crashes involving buses and large trucks, causing the death of two people.
  • 57 buses were involved in single-vehicle crashes, had 265 people involved, and 17 of them died.
  • 175 buses were involved in multiple-vehicle crashes, involved 1095 people, and killed 27 of them.
  • 24 motorcycles were involved in fatal crashes with buses killing 23 of the 25 people involved in these crashes.
  • 1,741 non-motorists, including occupants of motor vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, and people on personal conveyances, out of whom 274 were killed.
  • 41 pedestrians and 11 bicyclists were killed in bus crash accidents in 2017 alone.

The factors that contributed to fatal crashes for passenger vehicles (including buses) in 2017 include:

  • Speeding contributes to 6,662 single and multiple-vehicle accidents
  • Driver impairment, including intoxication, illness, and fatigue led to 6,470 accidents
  • 3,358 accidents occurred due to drivers failing to keep in the proper lane
  • 3,266 accidents were a result of drivers failing to yield the right of way
  • Distractions such as eating, grooming, or inattention resulted in 2,792 accidents
  • Careless driving caused 2,335 accidents
  • 1,752 accidents were the result of a driver's failure to obey traffic signals, traffic control devices, and safety zone traffic laws
  • 1,677 accidents occurred due to overcorrection
  • 1,612 accidents were due to reckless operation of the vehicle, including sudden speed changes and negligent driving
  • 1,237 accidents were due to visual obstruction by weather, road design, and other objects
  • Driving on the wrong side (intentional and unintentional) led to 987 accidents
  • Erratic and improper lane changes led to 870 accidents
  • 471 accidents occurred due to ice, snow, sand, oil, dirt, slush, wet leaves, and water on the road
  • 414 accidents occurred due to drivers following improperly
  • Improper turns were responsible for 411 accidents
  • Road rage and aggressive driving led to 313 accidents
  • Drivers with a driving record or driver's licenses from different states were responsible for 287 accidents
  • 222 accidents were due to drivers failing to yield to an overtaking vehicle or vehicles passing with insufficient distance.
  • 212 accidents occurred while a police officer pursued the vehicle
  • 176 accidents were the result of drivers' non-compliance with imposed or physical restrictions
  • 163 accidents occurred after drivers failed to adhere to signage prohibiting passing
  • 132 accidents involved drivers who failed to comply with learner's permit or GDL restrictions
  • 120 accidents were due to vehicles stopping in the roadway
  • Tire blowouts led to 100 accidents
  • Driving the wrong way on a one-way roadway led to 98 vehicle accidents
  • Inexperienced operators were responsible for 97 accidents
  • 94 of the accidents were due to drivers operating without the required equipment
  • 57 accidents were due to live animals being on the road.

10.9% of all the accidents involving pedestrian accidents had at least one recorded moving violation.

What the Government is doing about Bus Accidents

The federal, state, and local governments have significant roles they play in preventing traffic accidents. The common ones are through funding, construction, and maintenance of highways, streets, and roads.

The federal government is mainly responsible for financing the construction and maintenance of federally designated highways.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the federal body responsible for reducing crashes, injuries, and fatalities due to large trucks and buses. The FMCSA achieves its objective by:

  • Developing and enforcing regulations to enhance the efficiency and safety of large trucks and buses.
  • Using safety information to enforce safety regulations for high-risk carriers
  • Educating the public, common carriers, and commercial drivers of safety practices
  • Partnering with key stakeholders to help reduce the number and severity of large truck and bus crashes

Some of the programs by the FMCSA include:

  • Compliance, Safety, Accountability designed to improve the safety of commercial vehicles and prevent related crashes through crash investigations, roadside inspections, and issuing violations for noncompliance. The program focuses on companies investigating them for possible violations and taking the necessary steps to enforce compliance.
  • Hours of service program to regulate the number of hours commercial drivers can be on the road. This program seeks to reduce fatigue-related crashes.
  • The "Look before you book" campaign is designed to educate passengers and trip planners on safety considerations before choosing to travel by a certain bus company.

Another common way is through legislation whereby laws governing the public and private transport system seek to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and operation of cars safely.

Some of these laws punish behavior that increases the risks of accidents occurring, such as reckless, drunk, negligent, or distracted driving.

The California state government sets the transportation policies, funds transportation projects, and delegates these projects to other departments, including the DMV, the California Highway Patrol, and the California Department of Transportation.

Locally, the Orange County Transportation Authority facilitates the maintenance of roads and streets within the county. The maintenance includes making safety enhancements such as warning devices and coordinated traffic signals to prevent stalling.

What You Can Do After a Bus Accident

The government could enforce laws about keeping the roads safe and initiate campaigns to sensitize road users about safety practices, but accidents still happen.

When they do, they could change the rest of your life or, worse, kill your loved one.

Knowing what to do following the panic, fear, or injuries that result after an accident is crucial, particularly if you want to file a claim to find closure or cover the bills an injury will rack up.

The first thing to do if you are still conscious is to call 911 then check for injuries. You will want to check for injuries on yourself first before you can help other injured passengers (if possible).

However, when helping others, take care not to cause them more injuries.

Next, collect any evidence you can, including photographs of the bus, the point of impact, road marks where possible, and damaged property. While at it, note down the passengers' contact details on the bus and witnesses to the accident.

If you can, note down the details of the accident before it happened, anything the driver (of the bus or other vehicle was doing), and the road and weather conditions when the accident occurred.

It is safer having these details recorded even if you think you cannot forget the accident.

Seek medical attention immediately. Do not delay this because most people think they are not injured only for the injury to show up days after the accident. By then, you will have increased the chances of the other party dismissing your injuries as being from the accident.

Some injuries, such as internal injuries, could worsen and become fatal if you fail to get immediate medical attention. Remember, accident injuries are not only the open blood-gushing wounds you see in the movies.

Do not make statements about your injuries or the accident when insurance comes knocking. Neither should you sign a settlement agreement before speaking to a personal injury attorney.

Which brings us to the next point you should hire a personal injury attorney whether you were the passenger, driver, or another party to the accident.

If you suffered significant injuries, you will have piling medical bills, lost wages, permanent injuries, and the loss of your earning potential. Having an attorney will save you the burden of learning all legal matters about bus accidents or filing and negotiating a claim alone.

If you are the bus driver, you will need to inform your employer and the insurance company about the accident. You also have to take the insurance and vehicle information of other vehicles involved in the accident, and your take on the accident.

In addition, you have to check your passengers and help them where you can and report the accident to the police.

If you are a school bus driver, here are some of the things you should do:

  • Secure the vehicle where possible to prevent more harm (for instance, move the vehicle from the road to avoid the risk of a pileup).
  • Check all the students for injuries and, where possible, offer them first aid. However, do not attempt to handle injuries for which you have no training or experience.
  • Evacuate all the students if it is unsafe for them to remain on the bus
  • Report the accident and provide information such as your location, the number of students, the seriousness of the injuries, and your route number. It would help if you also informed the school authorities about the accident.

Compensation For Bus Accidents

When on paper, bus accident statistics are just that. However, look deeper, and you will see thousands of families losing their loved ones or living with permanent injuries due to an accident that could have been avoided.

These statistics could be of you or your loved ones. What do you do when you are in these shoes?

Getting medical attention should always be a priority after any traffic accident. Get yourself examined to catch injuries before they worsen, and reduce the risk of complications.

Another thing you can (and probably should) do is to seek compensation for your injuries. The law allows you to seek compensation for the costs you incur due to another person's negligence.

Some of the people you can sue after a bus accident include:

  • The bus driver
  • The employer of the bus driver (employers are responsible for their employees' actions when these employees are in the conduct of the business for which they were hired). Employers could also be liable for negligent hiring and failure to maintain their vehicles.
  • The state or local government (for instance, an accident that occurred due to unsafe road conditions or missing or misleading road signs)
  • The fleet company responsible for maintaining and inspecting its buses for safety

You can file your claims in a small claims court if the damages you seek are below $10,000. In this case, you could even represent yourself.

However, when dealing with a larger settlement (for instance, if you suffered catastrophic injuries), your best bet is to work with an experienced personal injury attorney.

You can recover the following damages from your case:

  • Past and future medical bills for injuries and complications arising from your injury
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning potential
  • Pain and suffering (including damages for mental anguish, loss of consortium, and loss of parental care and guidance)
  • Wrongful death damages (if you are the family of a person who died due to a bus accident)

The value of a settlement differs by the case, with some having significant settlements. For instance, a person with traumatic brain injury with significant disability will settle higher than one who suffered broken limbs, which healed without permanent disability.

Find an Orange County Injury Attorney Near Me

Bus accident statistics mainly inform policymakers about the impact of their activities and areas where they can improve on to reduce these statistics.

For you, these statistics allow you to glimpse into the reality of road safety and help you decide on ways you could protect yourself.

If you are one of these statistics, you can know that you are not alone and have a right to get compensated for the injuries you sustain due to someone else's negligence.

We help you at Orange County Personal Injury Attorney to recover compensation for your injuries or the loss of a loved one due to bus accidents. We do not count you as a statistic, but as a human being worthy of care, respect, dignity, and protection.

We represent our clients on contingency and only earn when you settle. Call us at 714-876-1959 to consult with our attorneys for free.