School Bus Drivers Risk More Distractions Than All Other Drivers
School bus drivers are trusted with the important responsibility of safely transporting students to and from school, as well as school related events such as interscholastic sports. One of the worst tragedies that can occur for students, their families and friends as well as the school, is a transportation accident. Along with the human cost are staggering financial costs as well. Bus accidents account for 16 percent of the total number of public school claims, resulting in excess of $7 million in losses, according to a United Education (UE) study.
School bus accidents are often the result of other drivers, especially those that are distracted. However, the drivers of school buses are also often distracted. Public school administrators can lower the risk of distracted driving accidents though better understanding of the many types of distractions school bus drivers can face and implementing strategies to address those risks.
Preventing Distracted Driving by School Bus Drivers
In addition to prohibiting phone use and eating or drinking while driving, school districts need to train drivers to stay alert, learn their routes thoroughly to limit GPS dependency, and avoid interaction with passengers. They must also train drivers to avoid reaching for a dropped object without first pulling off the road and stopping in a safe area.
Student conduct on a bus can pose a significant risk for driver distraction. Many established discipline policies are in place to control student behavior but some students often ignore these policies. When a misbehaving student diverts a driver’s attention, the lives of all the students are in jeopardy. School bus drivers cannot be expected to double as monitors. Parents and school administrators must take responsibility in teaching children the importance of being well behaved as a passenger.
Consequences for disobeying the code of conduct should be imposed by administrators while offering some flexibility. Horseplay should not be dealt with as severely as fighting or bullying. Students should be disciplined according to the number and severity of prior offenses. For lesser first offenses a warning may suffice but multiple serious offenses may warrant loss of bus service or suspension.
The National School Bus Safety Week during the third week of October is an ideal time to remind students as well as parents of the expectations of behavior and any policies that are in place. These policies may be posted on the school website as well as hard copies being posted in common areas of the school and in classrooms.
Many school districts have developed courses on student management and conflict resolution in their bus driver training programs. These programs are inline with those required by teachers and administrators as part of their educational programs. These programs emphasize the important role the driver has in ensuring the safety of the students. The addition of adult monitors is also a method used by some school districts in addressing behavioral issues on school buses. The addition of security cameras on school buses can also be a deterrent against bullying and other behavior issues while providing irrefutable proof of student misbehavior.
Implementing Technology to Improve Safety
With distracted driving as a rising cause of many school bus accidents, safety engineers have underscored the importance of developing systems assist drivers in avoiding crashes. Many school districts use rear and side vision camera systems to improve a driver’s view of blind spots. Other systems use sonar of microwave technology to alert the drivers of objects or people behind the bus when it is in reverse.
While there a single solution to eliminate driver distraction exists, school districts that approach the problem with a combination of tactics will help keep the drivers attention on the road.
School Bus Accident Attorney
Vititoe Law Group is a personal injury law firm committed to the safety of students. If you witness a distracted school bus driver with students on board, contact authorities immediately. Try to get the name of the school district and the number of the bus.
Students that ride to school on a bus should expect a peaceful and safe drive. In general, school buses are the safest means of students traveling to and from school. However incidents such as accidents and collisions may occur where young people are injured. These incidents are often the result of negligent behavior such as distracted driving.
When a bus driver is proved to be negligent, he of she is liable for damages. The school may, in some cases, be responsible for the damages owed to the student or parents of a student. It is paramount to the case to have the representation of an experienced accident attorney to process the case properly.
If you have a child who was injured in a school bus accident, contact Vititoe Law Group today for a free evaluation of your case. You could be entitled to receive substantial compensation.