It was with great sadness to see the multiple reports of five precious lives lost and at least seven other children injured in six bus stop accidents across the country last week. In neighboring Rochester, Indiana three siblings died, and one other student was seriously injured when a negligent driver struck the children while crossing the street to their waiting bus. The bus’s stop arm was out and the lights were flashing.
Other incidents included a 9-year old in Mississippi killed crossing the road to board the bus; a 5-year old injured crossing the street to the bus in Tallahassee, Florida; and a 7-year old killed in Pennsylvania. In Tampa, Florida, five children and two adults were injured as a car struck the pedestrians waiting at their bus stop.
These incidents really hit me hard as a father and a victim of a very serious accident involving a negligent driver. I wanted to take a few moments to share some Bus Stop Safety tips.
The National Highway Safety and Transportation Association (NHTSA) reports that students are about 70 times more likely to get to school safely in a bus, as opposed to riding in a car. This really does not take into account the dangers at the bus stop. While fatalities involving school buses are reportedly less than 1% of all fatal accidents, more than one-third of children who died in those occurrences were on foot, including some being hit by school buses.
Distracted Driving and Negligence
Distracted driving is growing exponentially each year as more drivers continue to use cell phones, text and multi-task behind the wheel. More than 391,000 drivers were injured in distracted driving crashes in 2015, totaling 3,477 deaths (NHSTA). In Civil Law, negligence refers to any failure to exercise reasonable care in one’s actions, resulting in injury or damage to another person or party. Negligence, the most common form of civil lawsuit, falls under the category of unintentional behavior, as opposed to intentional acts of harm. A common example of negligence includes violating any number of traffic laws including texting with driving, speeding, and DUI to name a few.
Just over the weekend in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, three Girl Scouts and a chaperone were killed picking up litter Saturday afternoon when a speeding pickup truck veered off the road into a ditch. The 21-year old driver sped off, then later surrendered to police. The driver was charged with four counts of homicide through the negligent use of a vehicle.
Bus Stop Safety Tips
Please have a conversation with your children before they head out to the bus stop. Here are some tips from NHTSA to help keep your children safe:
- Arrive at least 5 minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive
- Visit the bus stop and show your child where to wait for the bus
- Encourage your child to take three giant steps (six feet) away from the curb
- Remind your child to pay attention
- Wait to board the bus until the bus comes to a complete stop and the driver opens the doors
- Never walk behind a school bus
- Cross the street in front of the bus after making eye contact with the driver
- Do not bend over to pick up an item in front of the bus without advising the driver first
While negligence is usually unintentional in nature, it can be life changing. Drivers, please pay attention to the road and your surroundings, especially in school and bus zones. We all need to stay alert, and mindful of safety when we get behind the wheel.
If you would like to make a donation to the families affected by Tuesday’s tragic accident in Rochester, Indiana, here are the GoFundMe.com pages:
Darryl Isaacs – Bus Accident Lawyer