There is really no other explanation. Children killed or injured as they board or depart a school bus is usually caused by a negligent driver. The operator of a motor vehicle is too busy checking her cell phone or in other cases, the driver is going too fast or is impaired by alcohol or another substance.
In any of these cases, drivers are breaking the law when they fail to stop as a school bus extends its stop sign arm.
Parents and children should not be worried about taking the familiar yellow bus to and from school. But it’s turned out otherwise.
There were two more tragedies over the past month in Indiana.
In the worst scenario, three children, twin 6-year-old brothers and their 9-year-old sister, were killed in a crash near Rochester, Indiana. A fourth child was seriously injured.
The 24-year-old driver was charged with three counts of reckless homicide, and one misdemeanor count of disregarding a stop sign and causing injury. She has been released on bond.
Then, just a few days later, it happened near Indianapolis when a Decatur Central sophomore was hit by a car which then took off. It happened as the young man boarded the school bus at his driveway.
This time the victim was lucky. He survived with a foot injury.
There were further tragedies in Mississippi, Florida and Pennsylvania during virtually the same time frame. In all, at least five children were killed and seven injured within days of each other. All were hit by drivers near school bus stops.
The incidents — in Indiana, Mississippi, Florida and Pennsylvania — have drawn attention to pedestrian safety and distracted driving across the country.
A recent CNN report notes that “On a single day during the school year that ended in the spring, 20% of bus drivers reported that nearly 84,000 vehicles passed their buses illegally, according to The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPT), which surveyed drivers in 38 states and the District of Columbia.”
Law enforcement has ramped up its public education efforts and enforcement of speed limits in school zones. School bus drivers are doing their part to educate riders on ways to board and exit safely.
Experts blame distracted driving as one of the big contributors to these accidents. As more and more people choose to “text and drive” – despite the constant warnings – it’s little wonder why these tragedies are on the increase.
Hopefully, all of this is a serious ‘wake-up call’ for communities and neighbors to put together a plan for a safer school bus experience. There are many items that can be considered to create safer environments for children, including engineering solutions, such as safer sidewalks, stop lights and pedestrian bridges. Better street lights can also help illuminate roads and bus stops to improve visibility.
Mainly, though, it’s a matter of awareness. Education programs in schools that teach children when to cross streets and what to look for are key. Driver’s education and licensing tests should ensure that drivers know rules about when to stop for school buses.
Tauber Law Offices vigorously supports any change that will make going to school a safer experience. Meanwhile, if a friend or family member of yours has been a victim of a reckless or distracted driver, please contact us for a free consultation. We will quickly determine if you have a case and promise to aggressively seek justice for your loss.
Sources: WTHR-TV, CNN, NASDPT