A peculiar accident on an Eastern Kentucky school bus has left the bus attendant hospitalized in critical condition and transportation authorities conducting an investigation. With school children recently returning to class and the big yellow buses resuming their routes, it’s a good time for everyone – students, parents and school district employees alike – to review the rules for safe school bus transportation.
The accident occurred August 14, around 4:00 p.m. A school bus had picked up students at an elementary school and was en route to a middle school for more students. A clipboard stored under the dashboard fell onto the stairs at the front exit of the bus, prompting the bus monitor to leave her seat and step into the stairwell to retrieve the clipboard. The driver briefly took his eyes off the road to watch the attendant, but it was long enough to cause the bus to veer out of the lane. When the driver realized they were headed for some mailboxes, he jerked the bus to the left, causing the monitor to lose her balance and fall against the closed doors. The doors opened and the attendant fell on to the road and rolled into a ditch, unconscious. She was airlifted to a hospital and remains in critical condition.
This is a cautionary tale on so many levels, I hardly know where to start: the dangers of distracted driving, the hazards of having unsecured objects in a vehicle, the importance of staying seated in a moving vehicle, the quality of bus driver and attendant training, school bus design and maintenance . . . .
School bus driver training should touch on all of the above topics. In South Carolina, school bus drivers must earn a CDL Class B driver’s license and successfully complete a 20-hour South Carolina School Bus Training Class. In addition, they must have 20 hours of behind-the-wheel training and participate in a minimum of ten hours of annual in-service training. Let’s hope somewhere along the way they learn how quickly things can go wrong.
Even if your kids have ridden a bus to school for years now, it’s a good idea to give them some refresher training too. Here are Ten Tips for School Bus Travel:
- When the bus approaches, stand at least 6 feet back from the curb and form a line facing the school bus door, not along the side of the bus.
- Don’t head for the bus until it has stopped, the door has opened, and the driver says you can get on the bus.
- If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, stay 10 feet ahead of it so the driver can see you, and never walk or cross behind the bus.
- If you accidentally drop something near the bus, don’t pick it up – tell the driver about it.
- When you’re on the bus, sit quietly and listen to any instructions from the driver.
- Do not leave your seat while the bus is in motion. (The Kentucky accident illustrates why.)
- Don’t put your hands or head outside the window.
- Don’t make loud noises or moves that could distract the driver. (Again, see Kentucky bus accident.)
- Keep books, packages, coats, and all other objects out of the aisles and away from emergency exits. (And once again, refer to Kentucky accident.)
- At your stop, wait for the bus to stop completely before getting up from your seat, then walk to the front door and exit, using the handrail.
If you or your loved one is involved in a school bus accident of any kind, contact the Louthian Law Firm at (803) 454-1200. Our experienced lawyers know how to investigate the facts of a motor vehicle accident to determine if negligence played a part in the accident and to uncover the sources of possible compensation for your expenses and suffering.