Common Causes of School Bus Accidents


When you wait with your kids at the bus stop or drive behind a school bus on your way to work, it’s hard to imagine such a large, highly visible vehicle getting into an accident. And school bus drivers should be doing everything they can to prevent an accident—they are supposed to go through rigorous training because they’re responsible for transporting so many young passengers.


School bus accidents are actually fairly rare, and the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) ranks buses as the safest form of transportation when it comes to getting children to and from school. However, there are several causes that seem to be at play in the vast majority of bus accidents. Four of those causes are described below.


Driver Distraction


By now, it should be clear to all drivers that it’s not a good idea to multitask behind the wheel—just look at some of the US government’s distracted driving statistics if you’re not convinced. For people driving themselves in passenger vehicles, avoiding distraction may boil down to putting away all electronic devices. School bus drivers, on the other hand, are carrying dozens of young passengers who could create any number of distractions. Children are generally taught not to distract their bus driver as part of school bus safety training, but even just one or two disruptive children could create a significant distraction.


Driver Fatigue


There’s no way to mandate that bus drivers get a good night’s sleep before taking kids to school in the morning, and tired drivers are more prone to making errors. Accidents can happen when a tired driver fails to check their blind spot, takes a turn too sharply or too widely, goes too fast, or fails to observe any other rules of the road.


Mechanical Errors


Sometimes a school bus crash is not actually the bus driver’s fault; school buses are supposed to undergo regular maintenance to ensure that they’re safe, but when an inspection slips through the cracks or the person performing the inspection misses something, a bus may experience a mechanical error while on the road. Recently, a school bus in St. Louis crashed due to a crack in an air brake valve that caused the brakes to fail, and another bus from Louisville, Kentucky crashed due to a blown out tire, sending 35 people to the hospital.


Other Driver Errors


Driver Errors Causing School Bus Accidents


Sometimes it’s not the bus that causes an accident, it’s another driver. High school student drivers are at the highest risk for causing an accident simply because they have limited driving experience and may not recognize the precautions they need to take around school buses. Because buses are so large, they usually experience limited damage in an accident with a smaller passenger vehicle, but students on the bus can still be injured because they’re not wearing seat belts.


Responding to School Bus Accidents


Knowing that school bus accidents are relatively rare is little consolation if your child is injured in this kind of accident. If an accident does occur, it’s important to make sure your child receives medical attention first, and then to identify the accident cause in order to hold the responsible party accountable for their negligence—whether it’s the bus driver, another driver, or even the school bus manufacturer. Talk to an experienced bus accident attorney in your area to learn more.


About the Author:

Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of The Law Office of Andrew Winston. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”-an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state-and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”