The new school year is right around the corner, and that means school buses will soon be hitting the roads. Every parent wants to make sure their children are safe when they board the bus. But the start of a school year often brings accidents that in many cases are preventable. These are some common safety issues involving school buses, and what can be done in the event of an accident.
Statistically, school buses are safe and accidents are relatively rare. Fatalities are even rarer, owing in large part to the sheer size difference between a school bus and other vehicles. In fact, it is typically a smaller passenger vehicle or pedestrian who is more at risk of serious injury.
Negligence is usually to blame for automobile and bus accidents, and the same is true for school buses. Negligence can involve many parties: the school bus driver, another motorist, or even the manufacturer of school bus components. Many negligent behaviors could be to blame for an accident. Everything from failure to use a turn signal to texting while driving may be responsible.
In Georgia, some of the most common causes of school bus accidents are:
- A bus driver who speeds or violates other traffic laws
- A bus driver who drives while distracted or drives under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Failure to minimize distractions while the bus is in motion
- Failure to account for adverse weather, traffic, or road conditions
- Inadequate training or credentials for school bus drivers
- Overloading the school bus
- Defective parts that were used to assemble the school bus
- Poor maintenance of the school bus
Although negligence is to blame for these and other accidents, there are some common sense ways to promote bus safety. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of ensuring that drivers follow all regulations regarding their buses. Since distracting students can interfere with an operator’s ability to drive the bus, reasonable discipline should also be maintained. Parents can do their part in keeping children safe by teaching them the following safety rules:
- Always wait for the school bus in a location that’s safely away from traffic
- Never cross behind the bus; always at least ten feet in front
- Never enter a bus until it’s come to a complete stop
- Always enter and exit a bus in an orderly manner
- Use the handrail when entering and exiting the bus
- Stay seated during the bus ride and don’t distract the driver
- Keep the aisle clear of backpacks and other objects during the bus ride
If your child has been involved in a school bus accident, there are a number of important steps to take. First, have your child receive the necessary medical attention he or she needs, even for injuries that appear minor. You will want to ensure there aren’t any additional, more serious underlying issues that need to be addressed.
Document the child’s injuries and keep medical records. Learn the who, what, when, where, and why of the accident. Obtaining photographs of the accident scene, police reports, and witness statements can be helpful. You should definitely retain medical records concerning your child’s treatment and any diagnoses as well.
Lastly, contact an experienced Georgia automobile and personal injury attorney. School buses are operated by municipalities and other government units. Lawsuits are more complicated when cities, counties, school boards, and states are involved. Your ability to recover damages may be limited, and there may also be statutes of limitations and other deadlines.
The Attorneys at Schneider Hammers Can Help
Because school bus accidents are generally more complex than those involving private parties, having a lawyer is a must. At Schneider Hammers, we have the experience necessary to make sure any liable parties are held accountable for your injuries. Give us a call today and let one of our dedicated team members help you get started with your case.