Are Arizona School Buses Safe?
Sending your children off on a school bus can seem like the safest way to school. After all, school buses crash less often than motor vehicles and children are safer on a bus than walking to school…right? Not always. Parents should not assume that school buses in Arizona are safe. According to an investigation by The Arizona Republic, almost three out of 10 school buses in the state failed safety inspections due to “major defects.” Here are the details on serious deficiencies school buses in The Grand Canyon State might have – and what it could mean for your children.
Common School Bus Safety Violations in Arizona
The Arizona Republic investigated thousands of records and interviewed dozens of experts to create a searchable database for parents. Entering your child’s school district and the bus license plate number will come up with the safety inspection records for a specific bus. Otherwise, parents can browse the database to see what some of the most common failures, violations, and problems are amongst the local school buses. Entries in the database are in alphabetical order by the name of the school. Some of the most common safety problems include:
- Brake problems
- Inoperative required lamps
- No (or defective) emergency exits
- Missing exit instructions
- Seat tears, holes, and gaps
- Worn tire tread or wall separation
- Defective windshield wipers
- Battery not secured
- Inoperative stop signs
- Exhaust leaks and fumes entering buses
- Cracked windows and mirrors
In 2015, Arizona school buses failed close to 30% of safety inspections. One bus managed to fail five separate inspections over the course of three years. Why do Arizona’s school buses experience so many problems? Some believe it is because buses have to operate on rough, unpaved local roads – a belief supported by the fact that buses that travel the rural Chinle Unified School District failed 94 inspections over the course of the study. Some inspections found the “integrity of the bus questionable” due to so many major failures.
The Potential for Accidents and Injuries on School Buses in Arizona
Part of the problem in Arizona is lax maintenance requirements from state statutes. The state permits bus companies and schools to get by with just the bare minimum in terms of safety inspections, maintenance, and repairs. In Arizona, only seven state inspectors have the task of inspecting every bus once per year. State laws do not require any type of preventive maintenance on school buses between inspections. Experts say that a school bus safety violation rate should be well under 10%. Arizona’s failure rate is at 22% for its 7,000 buses.
It’s clear that many of the common safety failures in Arizona’s school buses could result in serious injuries to child passengers. An inoperative stop sign, for example, could lead to oncoming vehicles blowing past stopped school buses while children are getting on or off the bus – an issue with a high risk of a vehicle striking a child. If an Arizona school bus safety violation led to your child’s injuries or wrongful death, you might have a claim against the school district or the city government.
In the event of a school bus accident, collision, or injury while riding a school bus, parents should learn their rights with help from lawyers. It may be possible to pursue recovery for the injured child’s medical bills and pain and suffering, as well as lost wages for parents who had to miss work. Lawsuits could also force the school to pay more attention to the safety of its buses – potentially saving other children from similar accidents and injuries. The best thing you can do for your child in Arizona is to stay on top of bus safety and inspection facts, and to contact a Phoenix accident lawyer if the worst happens.
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