Yellow School Bus = Death Trap?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Passenger vehicles' passive safety has improved dramatically over the last four decades. Yet millions of children continue to ride to and from school in buses little changed from those used when the Who wrote "Magic Bus." The family of a boy injured in a Kentucky bus crash may finally change that. Lawyers representing Cody Shively, a 12-year old boy who suffered brain and eye injuries in a bus accident, are suing the vehicles' manufacturers (Navistar International Corporation, Navistar International Transportation Corporation, International Truck and Engine Corporation and IC Corporation) and the Grant County School Board. Lawyer Stanley Chesley has a not-so-secret weapon: on-board video of the children during the crash. And he's not afraid to use it. Citing T he American School Bus' Council's website's assertion that Yellow buses are inherently safe [since modified], Chesley unleashed the dogs of war: "Anyone who would make such absurd statements should be forced to watch those children flying around that bus during the accident. One moment they were just sitting in their seats, the next they were being thrown back and forth like trees in a hurricane and the bus was crushing like a sardine can."

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Donal Donal on Aug 02, 2007

    I recall the unpadded steel pipe that was the rear edge of the seat in front of me. Whenever the bus would decelerate, it seemed that my front teeth were headed right for that black pipe. I think most of us learned to rest at least one hand on the pipe in case of a sudden stop.

  • Kasumi Kasumi on Aug 02, 2007

    Could this be a cost issue? There are only a few bus manufacturers and crash testing buses probably would be pretty expensive. However, the capsule issue wreaks of the non-seat belt wearing excuses as I have heard about not wanting to be trapped in a car. Yeah, thats my biggest concern, being thrown clear when my car hits a tree. With decently designed belt, wouldn't that keep the kids in their seats so they weren't a bunch of bingo balls? K.

  • Nichjs Nichjs on Aug 03, 2007

    Robert Schwartz, nail on the head, mate, this is the reason that seat belts will never work in School busses.

  • Whatdoiknow1 Whatdoiknow1 on Aug 03, 2007

    I am a parent of a 1st grader in NYC. I frequently attend class field trips with him and can attest to the fact that todays school buses are far safer then the one I rode to school in the 70s and 80s. Today's school buses in NYC are all equiped with; -Padded high back seating for all passangers, -SEAT BELTS for all passangers, -Padding on all interior railings and metal handles. -All interior surfaces are rounded and smooth. -A total on nine emergency exits; two in roof, at least 4 windows, a kick out windshield, and two exit doors back and drivers side. Some even have a additonal emergency exit on the curb side. The newer models are even equiped with ABS and might even have traction control. All appear to have auto trannys. On top of all this there is now A/C on school buses, WTF! When I was in elementary school our buses had low back seats with no padding. There were no roof exits or seat belts. There were exposed screws on just about every surface. The only other door was at the back. Window frames and many other surfaces could cause all types of cuts and bruises. One of the most important safety features is the simple rule that no is allowed out of their seat while the bus is in motion. Very Effective! Seat belts usage on school buses is MANDATORY in NYC and believe it or not the children do use them!