Two Injured After A Driver Hits NJ School Bus And Flees From Scene: Are Buses Safe For Kids?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) along with the National School Transportation Association and the US Department of Transportation all advocate for the utmost well-being regarding school age children.

The NHTSA issued its annual Traffic Safety Facts in August 2012, bearing out the school transportation-related crashes from 2001-2010. A school transportation-related crash is a crash which involves, either directly or indirectly, a school bus body vehicle, or a non-school bus functioning as a school bus, transporting children to or from school or school-related activities.

Since 2001, there were 363,839 fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes. Of those, 1,236 or 0.34 percent were classified as school transportation-related. On average, 18 school age children die annually while engaged in a school transportation-related accident.

However, school buses take place of 36 additional cars being on the road at key morning and afternoon pick up and drop off times. School buses keep an annual estimated 17.3 million cars off roads surrounding schools. That spares millions of gallons of fuel, billions of dollars in fuel costs, and a needless excess of CO2 emissions and significantly cuts down on potential single vehicle accidents and fatalities.

“The safety record of school transportation is just about untouched by any other mode,” says Eric Bolton, spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Every year, school buses carry some 24 million students and collectively travel more than 4 billion miles. Considering how many kids the buses carry and the distance they cover, deaths on the road are extremely rare. School buses have a rate of 0.2 deaths per 100 million miles traveled. The rate of deaths in automobiles is eight times higher.

A school bus makes a positive environmental impact, economic impact, and safety impact. There are laws that provide strict rules when in the vicinity of a school bus and student loading and unloading zones. Violating these laws can have costly and embarrassing consequences. One can be fined, have their driving privileges revoked, and, in the case of 32-year-old Shena Hardin, be court ordered to public shaming for repeatedly driving on the sidewalk in her neighborhood to sidestep a stopped school bus.

NBC News reports that earlier this morning in Camden County, Clementon, New Jersey a driver rear-ended a school bus full of kids. Thereafter, the vehicle and fled the scene of the accident. Two people on the bus were hospitalized with minor injuries after the hit-and-run. Authorities say the crash happened around 7:45 am near Clementon Elementary School at 4 Audubon Ave. but involved a bus transporting kids to another school. No immediate description of that vehicle has been made available.

New Jersey Law describes that there is a felony charge for leaving the scene of a fatal accident, called a hit and run, in New Jersey. A driver having knowledge that he or she was involved in a motor vehicle accident that caused personal injury or death must stop immediately at or as close to the accident scene as possible; otherwise, it can be considered a hit and run and subject to associated charges. Leaving the scene of a fatal accident is a third degree crime, punishable by three to five years in state prison. The presumption on non-imprisonment for 1st offenders does not apply to this crime and a sentence for this crime is imposed consecutively to convictions for aggravated manslaughter or vehicular homicide. Please refer to N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.1.

[Photo Credit: American School Bus Council]