Houston School Bus Accident Lawyer
Houston School Bus Accident Lawyer
A school bus is a type of bus owned, leased, contracted to, or operated by a school or school district. It is regularly used to transport students to and from school or school-related activities, but not including a charter bus or transit bus. Various configurations of school buses are used worldwide; the most iconic examples are the yellow school buses of the United States and Canada.
In North America, school buses are purpose-built vehicles distinguished from other types of buses by design characteristics mandated by federal and state/province regulations. In addition to their distinct paint color (school bus yellow), school buses are fitted with exterior warning lights (to give them traffic priority) and multiple safety devices.
As an outcome of manufacturer consolidation and industry contraction during the 1990s, the beginning of the 21st century marked extensive changes to the production of school buses. In place of customers selecting body and chassis manufacturers separately, body and chassis combinations were now determined by corporate ownership and supply agreements. While the aspect of customer choice had largely ended, decreased complexity paved the way for new product innovations previously thought impossible. During the 2000s, manufacturers introduced a new generation of conventional-style school buses. During the 2010s, while diesel engines remain the primary source of power, school bus manufacturers underwent an expansion of alternative-fuel vehicles, including CNG, propane, gasoline, and electric-power buses.
While the underlying design of Type A school buses saw little change, by the early 2000s, the Type B configuration had largely ended production; along with the 1998 sale of the General Motors P-chassis to Navistar subsidiary Workhorse, the design was largely phased out in favor of higher-capacity Type A buses. In 2006, IC Bus introduced the BE200, its first small school bus (a Type B with a fully cowled chassis). In 2010, IC produced its first cutaway-cab school bus, the AE-series; both the AE and BE were produced to 2015. In 2018, Collins began production of the Collins Low Floor; based on the front-wheel drive Ram ProMaster, it is the first low-floor school bus (of any configuration).
In line with large bus manufacturers, small bus manufacturers saw a degree of transition, aside from the failure of startup manufacturer Liberty Bus, contraction was largely absent. In 2007, Collins Bus Corporation acquired Canadian manufacturer Corbeil out of bankruptcy, consolidating its brand alongside Mid Bus in its Kansas production facility. In 2007, U.S. Bus was reorganized as Trans Tech. In 2009, Blue Bird and Girardin entered into a joint venture, named Micro Bird; Micro Bird produces and develops the small-bus product line for Blue Bird in Canada. During the 2010s, Collins retired the Mid Bus and Corbeil brands (in 2013 and 2016, respectively).
At the beginning of the 2000s, coinciding with truck redesigns, manufacturers saw the retirement and introduction of several major cowled chassis. In 2003, the Chevrolet/GMC B7 ended production, with the International 3800 retired in 2004 (the final version of the International S-Series). In 2004, Blue Bird and Thomas introduced conventional-style school buses that integrated body and chassis within a single manufacturer. Blue Bird introduced the Vision; although a conventional, Blue Bird also produced the cowled chassis (in line with the All American). Thomas introduced the Saf-T-Liner C2; deriving its chassis from the Freightliner Business Class M2, the body of the C2 was designed together alongside its chassis. A trait of both the Vision and C2 (over their predecessors) is improved loading-zone visibility; both vehicles adopted highly sloped hoods and extra glass around the entry door. In 2011, Lion Bus (today Lion Electric Company) of Saint-Jérôme, Quebec marked the return of full-size bus production to Canada. Using a chassis supplied by Spartan Motors, Lion produces a conventional-style bus with either diesel or electric power. In an industry first, Lion produces a school bus with composite exterior panels (in place of steel).
During the 2000s, school bus safety adopted a number of evolutionary advances. To further improve visibility for other drivers, manufacturers began to replace incandescent lights with LEDs for running lights, turn signals, brake lights, and warning lamps. School bus crossing arms, first introduced in the late 1990s, came into wider use. Electronics took on a new role in school bus operation. To increase child safety and security, alarm systems have been developed to prevent children from being left on unattended school buses overnight. To track drivers who illegally pass school buses loading and unloading students, in the 2010s, some school buses began to adopt exterior cameras synchronized with the deployment of the exterior stop arms. Onboard GPS tracking devices have taken on a dual role of fleet management and location tracking, allowing for internal management of costs and also to alert waiting parents and students of the real-time location of their bus. Seatbelts in school buses underwent a redesign, with lap-type seatbelts phased out in favor of 3-point seatbelts.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), school buses are the safest type of road vehicle.On average, five fatalities involve school-age children on a school bus each year; statistically, a school bus is over 70 times safer than riding to school by car. Many fatalities related to school buses are passengers of other vehicles and pedestrians (only 5% are bus occupants). Since the initial development of consistent school bus standards in 1939, many of the ensuing changes to school buses over the past eight decades have been safety related, particularly in response to more stringent regulations adopted by state and federal governments.
Ever since the adoption of yellow as a standard color in 1939, school buses deliberately integrate the concept of conspicuity into their design. When making student dropoffs or pickups, traffic law gives school buses priority over other vehicles; in order to stop traffic, they are equipped with flashing lights and a stop sign.
As a consequence of their size, school buses have a number of blind spots around the outside of the vehicle which can endanger passengers disembarking a bus or pedestrians standing or walking nearby. To address this safety challenge, a key point of school bus design is focused on exterior visibility, improving the design of bus windows, mirrors, and the windshield to optimize visibility for the driver. In the case of a collision, the body structure of a school bus is designed with an integral roll cage; as a school bus carries a large number of student passengers, a school bus is designed with several emergency exits to facilitate fast egress.
In the United States and Canada, numerous federal and state regulations require school buses to be manufactured as a purpose-built vehicle distinct from other buses. In contrast to buses in use for public transit, dedicated school buses used for student transport are all single-deck, two-axle design (multi-axle designs are no longer in use). Outside of North America, buses utilized for student transport are derived from vehicles used elsewhere in transit systems, including coaches, minibuses, and transit buses.
There are four types of school buses produced by manufacturers in North America. All school buses are of single deckdesign with step entry. Depending on specifications, school buses are currently designed with a seating capacity with up to 90 passengers. In the United States, school buses are restricted to a maximum width of 102 in (2.59 m) and a maximum length of 45 ft (13.7 m).
The smallest school buses are Type A (based on cutaway van chassis) with Type B (bodied on a bare chassis) serving as a larger format of small school buses. There are two formats of large school buses, including Type C (bodied on cowled medium-duty truck chassis, the most common design) and Type D (bodied on bare “forward control” or “pusher” chassis; the largest school buses).
Type of Truck Involved In Wreck Links