Occasionally, school buses have accidents. You may wonder what causes school bus accidents. These crashes may occur because of negligence on the part of the school bus driver or another driver on the roadways.
It seems strange to think that school buses could be involved in a serious accident. After all, they dwarf the typical passenger vehicle. However, if the bus is traveling at a high speed, if it tips over, or if it rolls or slides down an embankment, any accident involving a school bus could be extremely serious, resulting in significant injury or death.
When the School Bus Driver is at Fault
According to the National Safety Council Injury Facts page, in 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documented that 117 people were killed in school bus accidents. Sometimes, when school bus accidents occur, the driver may be at fault.
Perhaps more than any other driver on the road, a school bus driver faces many driving distractions. Some ways through which the school bus driver may be distracted include:
- The use of personal electronics
- Excessive noise
- Students moving around
- An overcrowded bus
- Radio communication with the school
- Other drivers behaving negligently around the bus
Driving While Tired
Depending on the school district, some school bus drivers may be asked to work longer-than-normal routes or take on extra routes due to a lack of available and qualified drivers.
Additionally, some school bus drivers may have other jobs, so they may be sleep-deprived while driving the bus.
Violating Traffic Laws
A school bus must follow the same laws on the roads as any other driver. If the school bus driver is acting negligently, he or she may ignore certain traffic laws, including:
- Ignoring traffic signs
- Ignoring traffic signals
- Road rage and reckless driving incidents
- Going too fast for road or weather conditions
For a free legal consultation, call 317-636-7777
When Another Driver Is at Fault
Sometimes, the causes of school bus accidents are related to the actions of other drivers on the road. For example, the school bus driver may have done nothing wrong, but another driver hit the bus and caused injuries to the students.
Following Too Closely Behind
Because school buses often stop to drop off or pick up students, other drivers should not follow the bus too closely. Otherwise, the driver could hit the bus from behind during a sudden stop.
Ignoring Stopped Bus
When a school bus in Indiana stops to pick up or drop off students, it will show red flashing lights and extend a stop arm, as explained by the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) on school bus safety.
Drivers behind the bus must stop, and drivers traveling in the other direction must often stop too, until the driver retracts the stop arm. Failure to do so could cause a school bus accident with the bus or with a child near the bus.
When the Bus Owner Is at Fault
The Indiana State School Bus Committee helps with setting up inspections of school buses in the state, which includes any buses that non-public schools own and operate. The state performs the inspections, and the school bus owner must bring the bus to the inspector, per Indiana Code §20-27-7.
Should the bus owner fail to follow the inspection laws or fail to keep the bus in proper working order, the owner could be found liable in a school bus accident.
It is vital that a school bus has properly inflated tires and working headlights, brake lights, turn signals, windshield wipers, brakes, and safety lights to help avoid traffic accidents. If these items are not working properly prior to an accident, the company that maintains the bus could be found negligent.
Hiring Qualified Drivers
Driving a school bus requires different training and licenses than a general driver. The driver must have a certification to drive a school bus in the state of Indiana, which includes an S endorsement.
If the school district or the school bus company does not provide the training drivers require, or if the bus owner does not make certain the driver has the proper endorsement on his or her driver’s license, the bus driver could make a mistake and end up in a crash.
Let Us Help Defend Your Rights
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with a school bus or while riding a school bus, you have the right to seek compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Consider hiring the Sevenish Law Firm, P.C. to represent your needs in a case like this.
We will study the facts in your case and help you understand who was at fault in the school bus accident. We will work tirelessly to help you receive an agreeable settlement with the insurance company. Call us today at (317) 636-7777.