A horrific school bus crash in Tennessee made international headlines when the driver, ferrying 37 children, strayed from the route and crashed, leaving six children dead and dozens injured. Questions have been raised as to whether the 24-year-old driver intentionally crashed the bus and whether the district should have been aware that he was a possible risk on the road.
The reality is that school bus accidents – especially fatal ones – aren’t all that common. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that between 20004 and 2013, there were 1,214 school-transportation related fatal crashes. Approximately 134 people die in school vehicle-related crashes and about 8 percent of those are actually on the bus. About one-fifth are pedestrians and bicyclists. Most are people in other vehicles.
In the recent Florida case of Davis v. Baez, plaintiff was a student pedestrian who was injured when she was struck by another vehicle while crossing a darkened, busy street early one morning to get to her bus stop. Normally, the school bus driver wouldn’t be liable in a case like this, but the driver – allegedly and against the school district’s policy – instructed students at this particular stop to cross the street and be waiting for him at the bus stop on the east side of the street when he arrived. He told them if they didn’t cross before he got there, he wouldn’t stop to pick them up. However, school policy required that the students be allowed to wait on the east side of the street until the bus arrived, at which time the driver would extend his flashing stop sign to halt traffic in both directions so students could cross safely to the stop. Continue reading