Our Most Precious Cargo, Our Most Solemn Responsibility

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Posted on 27th March 2009 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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You would probably have to search for a very long time to find anyone who would not agree that the most precious commodity transported on the nation’s highways are our children. They are among our most vulnerable passengers. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children from 2 to 14 years old.

What is more disturbing is the number of school bus crashes which occur in the United States.

safeguard4kids, proponents of seat belts for school buses, lists these NHTSA statistics:

Since different organisations have their own ways of reporting, tracking and calculating school bus accidents and injuries, it is difficult to know how many children are actually injured in school bus accidents. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that school bus crash data is incomplete and that injuries cannot be reliably estimated.1 We do know, however, that lap-shoulder belts can make a significant impact on injury reduction.

* According to the April 2002 NHTSA Report to Congress, every day there are over 144 school bus accidents (26,000 per year) in America and more than 9,500 children are injured in school bus accidents each year.
* According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there were an estimated 51,100 school bus-related injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments from 2001 to 2003, which averages to approximately 17,000 children injured in school bus accidents each year. This is the first study to describe nonfatal school bus–related injuries to U.S. children and teenagers treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments using a national sample. This study identified a much greater annual number of school bus–related injuries to children than reported previously.
* Data from the General Estimates System2 indicates that 13,000 people are injured annually in school bus crashes. Of those injured, 46 percent (5,980) were school bus occupants, 8 percent were school bus drivers, 38 percent were occupants of other vehicles, and fewer than 0.05 percent each were pedestrians, pedal cyclists and non-motorists.

Additionally:

According to 2005 data from NHTSA, an average of 21 school age children die in school transportation-related traffic crashes each year. Six of those deaths occur in school transportation vehicles. This number applies only to daily school routes and does not account for extracurricular activities that take place outside of normal school hours.

When I began posting headlines related to school bus incidents and accidents, I went very quickly from concern to shock at the number of school bus accidents occurring every day in this country. I have read follow up stories of drunk driving arrests among bus drivers and wondered why such stories do not elicit the sort of nationwide outrage that other media stories do. Not only are children the most precious cargo on the road, shouldn’t we trust those responsible for their safety to be beyond reproach character-wise?

What baffles me as well is reading over and over of school-buses being rear-ended by drivers who do not seem to pay much heed to those flashing lights or FREQUENT STOPS warnings, not to mention that a school bus should raise within in all of us a heightened sense of caution and care. I cannot even deliver an analogy as I can not imagine anything more fragile and valuable than our children.

There are plenty of stories of pickups and SUVs colliding with school buses in icy weather. Living in the midwest, I have myself observed the invincible driving attitudes of some of these drivers when road conditions are dangerous. They may think they can tackle an arctic storm without slowing down, but headlines say otherwise.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but it is a fact of life that certain times on week days, we can expect that school buses are out on the road. Before we get behind the wheel of our cars and stick the keys in the ignition, we should take a moment to confirm in our minds that there is precious cargo out on those roads and it is the responsibility of each and everyone of us to make sure that cargo is safely delivered to its destination.

Again and again, seat belt regulations for school buses fall through the cracks in state legislation. That means that the burden of the responsibility lies on the shoulders of all of us.

thelegaltimes.net staff article ©2009

Mexican bus crash kills 11, some Americans

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Posted on 17th March 2009 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 3/17/2009 4:23 PM

By OSCAR VILLALBA
Associated Press Writer

PIEDRAS NEGRAS, Mexico (AP) — A tractor-trailer slammed into a bus carrying Canadian and U.S. tourists on a northern Mexico highway, killing 11, officials said Tuesday.

Local officials said eight Americans are among the dead, and the U.S. Embassy has confirmed the identities of four, spokeswoman Liz Detter said. The Embassy could not release their names because next of kin had not been notified.

“Our heartfelt condolences go out to all those killed and injured in this tragedy,” Detter said.

Alberto de la Rosa Vizcaino, Civil Protection director in the city of Saltillo, said three Canadians were killed in Monday’s crash.

Canadian foreign affairs spokesman Alain Cacchione said Canadians were involved in the crash but he declined to provide further details for privacy reasons.

One of those killed was Ana Maria Bujanos, a middle-school reading teacher from Brownsville, Texas.

Her husband, Chris Bujanos, said a friend told him Tuesday morning after hearing his wife named as one of the victims on the radio, and a U.S. consulate representative called him to confirm her death.

“Tomorrow would have been our 33rd wedding anniversary, that’s why I’m taking it so hard,” Bujanos said.

Ana Maria Bujanos, 56, who taught at Cummings Middle School in Brownsville, was traveling to Zacatecas with another teacher from Harlingen during their spring break.

She had taken similar trips for years, her husband said. The bus picked them up in Harlingen on Monday morning and was scheduled to return Thursday evening, he said.

Coahuila state police commander Armando Santana said 11 people were killed in the crash and 15 injured. The injured were taken to three hospitals in Coahuila.

Santana said the bus was carrying retirees from McAllen, Texas, to the northern state of Zacatecas. Detter said 19 Americans were on board.

The truck driver apparently lost control and swerved into the bus’s lane on a highway outside Saltillo, Santana said. He said the bus driver was killed and the truck driver was among the injured.

Duane DeBruyne, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, said his agency is supporting an investigation.

“The Mexican state and local police will be the lead authorities,” DeBruyne said.

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Associated Press writers Christopher Sherman in McAllen, Texas, and Alexandra Olson in Mexico City contributed to this report.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.