NTSB Makes School Bus Safety Recommendations

School BusAccording to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an average of 18 school-age children die in school transportation-related crashes each year. In 2010 specifically, there were 129 fatalities in school transportation-related crashes. To give this number even more perspective from 2001 to 2010 there 1,236 fatal school transportation-related crashes. Even one child’s death is one too many.

Common causes of school bus accidents include fatigued bus drivers, drivers operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol, improperly trained drivers, failure to follow traffic laws, overloaded buses, poor bus maintenance and more.

In July 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) made a recommendation in response to fatal school bus accidents that took place in Florida and in New Jersey, which included mandatory seatbelts. Those accidents took place at intersections and their buses were equipped with lap seatbelts. Today only six states (California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, and Texas) require seatbelts on buses and most are required on new buses not retrofitting existing buses.

The NTSB also recommended that the government set performance standards for new safety technology in vehicles that lets them talk to each other to prevent accidents and also require them in all new vehicles. In addition they recommend training for drivers, students, educators, and parents to teach them the proper use of the belts and to stress the importance of compliance.

Some recent and tragic accidents or reckless incidents involving schools buses include:

  • June 2013 – A New Jersey school bus driver was fatigued and had taken sedating medications when a dump truck struck the overloaded bus he was driving at a rural intersection. One child was killed with 14 others injured. Many of the elementary school students on the bus were not wearing seat belts. NTSB found the school bus driver negligent in the cause of crash.
  • November 2012 – Who can forget the Ohio driver who was ultimately caught on camera driving on the sidewalk to avoid a Cleveland school bus picking up handicapped children at a bus stop. She completely disregarded the law and the safety of the school children. Ultimately she was held accountable in a court of law and was also ordered to stand at the corner of the incident holding a sign holding a sign warning people about idiots. The sign reads: “Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus.”
  • March 2012 – In Florida, a semi tractor-trailer truck hit a Port St. Lucie school bus, killing one student and seriously injuring four others. Police charged both drivers. The school bus driver was charged with failure to stop or yield. The driver of the tractor trailer was charged with failure to secure his vehicle’s container and failure to cover its load with tarp. The truck company was also cited for exceeding the weight limit and inadequate braking.

There can more than one liable party in a school bus accident. They can include the bus driver, the owner of the bus (whether public or private), the bus maintenance company, the bus manufacturer, the municipality where the accident occurred and the other driver or negligent third party.

If you or a loved one has been in injured or killed in a school bus accident you have the right to pursue a civil law suit. Contact the school bus accident lawyers of Farmer, Jaffe Weissing today.