Traveling via the school bus system is fairly common among school age children, and even in some instances younger age groups. Many kids utilize these buses to get them off to class or to end the day. Though the school bussing systems seem simple enough, getting on and off the bus can also be a dangerous task. Safety for these students should always be top of mind. Many children will be boarding the school bus each weekday morning and afternoon. It’s important to remember that although we entrust bus drivers with getting kids to and from school each day, accidents can happen and injuries can occur.
In statistics from 2006 to 2015 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of 131 fatalities were reported per year due to school transportation related accidents. The majority of school transportation related accidents that killed school-age pedestrians occurred from 6:00 am to 8:00 am and 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm – when school is starting and ending for the day and many people are heading to and from schools. Thirty-five percent of the school-aged pedestrians killed were only 8 to 13 years old.
These accidents happen frequently in Texas and often seriously injure students, the bus driver, and other parties involved. There have been multiple accidents already in 2021 involving a vehicle hitting a school bus. On February 3rd, in San Patricio, Texas, a vehicle seen passing several cars collided with a school bus and injured eight children. In Cypress, Texas, on March 4th, as a bus was turning left out of a neighborhood, a pick-up truck collided with the bus and sent several students to the hospital with injuries.
Why do so many school bus accidents occur nationwide?
A wide turn radius, heavy bus, and distracting children can all contribute to a school bus accident. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) reports that in the 2019-2020 school year, more than 2,000 school bus accidents occurred in our state, involving more than 7,500 students. While only one fatality occurred, 164 students were injured. Due to a lack of seatbelts on Texas school buses, serious injuries can occur in even minor accidents.
Causes of School Bus Accidents
- Aggressive driving
- Failure to yield
- Fatigued driving
- Inadequate driver training
- Influence of alcohol or drugs
- Overloaded bus
- Poor weather conditions, such as rain or fog
- Poorly maintained bus
School buses also pose a high risk to pedestrians. Extremely limited visibility makes it difficult for drivers to see students that pass in front of or behind the bus, which can lead to tragic accidents.
Inclement Weather Can Cause School Bus Accidents
Although it’s safest to avoid driving in the rain, it’s often avoidable. When drivers have to drive in the rain or in other extreme weather conditions, it is extremely important to exercise caution. To help prevent bus accidents, drivers should keep several safety tips in mind:
- Allow for extra braking time. Slick roads can make it difficult for vehicles to come to a complete stop. By leaving a little extra room between a bus and any vehicles it is following, drivers can make sure they have the space they need for braking.
- Slow down. Drivers can easily lose control of their vehicles on slick roads, so reducing speed will help keep drivers in control.
- Try not to make sudden movements. While this isn’t entirely in a driver’s control, swerving or turning too fast could cause a vehicle to spin out much more easily on slick roads.
- Put down distractions and focus. While distracted driving is never okay, it is even more dangerous when it’s raining. Drivers need every ounce of focus to drive safely in the rain.
What Can Drivers and Pedestrians Do?
In order to make sure both drivers and pedestrians alike are staying safe, the Texas Department of Public Safety offers the following tips for students and drivers to keep in mind:
- Remember to stand at least ten feet away from the curb while waiting for the bus.
- Make sure to look both ways prior to crossing the street after exiting the bus.
- Before you cross the street, ensure you are far enough in front of the bus so the bus driver and any other drivers can see you.
- Once exiting the bus, make sure there are no cars passing on the shoulder of the road.
- Always obey the posted speed limit.
- Keep an eye out for children gathered at a bus stop.
- Watch for children who could run across the street to catch their bus.
- Never block crosswalks.
- Always stop for flashing lights on a school bus, regardless of the direction you’re heading.
- Remember that the area ten feet around a school bus is the most dangerous, so leave plenty of room between your vehicle and any student transportation vehicles.
Lubbock School Bus Accident Lawyers
It is important for all drivers to follow signals and obey warning lights, including stopping on both sides of the street when a school bus has its warning lights flashing, as children may be crossing the street. Any injury involving a loved one can be jarring, but having your child injured can be especially traumatic. If your child has been involved in a school bus accident, contact the Lubbock school bus accident lawyers at Liggett Law Group for help in navigating the system. Our local attorneys provide free consultations.