School Bus Accident Leaves Parents Feeling Helpless

School busIt's a news story topic we hear far too frequently, and one that strikes fear into the hearts of parents of school-age kids: kids who are injured -- or worse -- in school bus accidents. Just the other day, in fact, came news that 33 elementary and middle school kids in Pennsylvania were treated for minor injuries after the bus they were riding in suddenly swerved, possibly because the driver either hit or was trying to avoid a pothole. The kids were "shaken up," according to one report, and some of them bumped their heads and were taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation and treatment.

Ultimately, thank goodness, none of those children's injuries turned out to be more than bumps and bruises. But parents everywhere are also shaken up by news stories like this. I know I am. I often wonder if putting my kids on the school bus is one of the biggest risks on their behalf I knowingly take as a parent.


For the record, the American School Bus Council says taking a school bus is "the safest form of transportation for getting children to and from school," far safer than being driven to school in a car. Of course, they would say that, but the organization cites National Academy of Sciences' Transportation Research Board findings that "a child is 13 times safer in a school bus than in other modes of travel." So there's that.

But, reassuring stats aside, there's something about entrusting your child to a stranger -- even a stranger who is, one hopes, carefully vetted by the school district or whoever they farm their bus service out to -- that feels very scary indeed. I know I take very few driving risks when my children are in the car, that I try to be especially careful when I am behind the wheel. Will their driver be just as careful? Will she make sure they buckle up, that they do not get out of their seats to chat with their friends? Will she drive with the awareness that she is responsible for their lives in the fore of her mind?

I sure hope so -- because the two days a week my kids take the bus home from school make the logistics of our week possible. So far, so good. And when I get scared, I just remind myself of how, when I was a kid riding the bus, we used to fight for the back seat so that we could feel the bumps, that the school bus brought us a sense of independence and freedom. We used to make up silly songs and games. In fact, the friendships we made on the school bus were some of our closest, perhaps because we really weren't being that closely watched by parents and teachers. So maybe the bus is not so evil, right? Maybe, at least in some way, it's not just a matter of convenience but even a force of good? Here's hoping ...

Do you feel uneasy about having your kid ride the school bus?


Image via born1945/Flickr

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