Serious School Bus Crashes

We’re well past the halfway point in the summer vacation session for most Missouri schools.  Soon enough busloads of students will be on the road again in the early morning and late afternoon.

Thankfully, school bus transportation is a relatively safe mode of travel. But a recent investigation of two fatal school bus crashes warns of negligent actions that can lead to such tragedies anywhere and anytime.

In May, the National Transportation Safety Board released the findings of its investigation into two school bus crashes; one in Baltimore, Md. and the other in Chattanooga, Tenn.  A total of 12 people died in the accidents.

Common Causes of Truck and Bus Crashes

The federal agency found contributing factors to these two fatal accidents that are also common causes of fatal crashes of large commercial vehicles of all types – negligent driver behavior and insufficient oversight by the drivers’ employers.

For example, driver error has been shown to be the leading cause of commercial trucking accidents.  This can involve speeding, lane swerving or districted driving that leads to inattentiveness to traffic conditions ahead.

In the fatal school bus crashes, both bus drivers lost control of their vehicles.  Investigators found evidence of prior negligent actions by each driver, and held their employers mutually responsible for knowing about them and not taking action.

Employers Ignoring Dangerous Driver Actions

One school bus driver had a seizure and lost control of the bus. The NTSB states the seizure was due to a long-standing medical condition that should have prevented the driver from getting a commercial driver’s license. The report cites the driver for fraudulently obtaining the license, but also the school bus company for allowing the driver to work with the medical condition it should have known was unsafe.

In the other fatal school bus accident, investigators determined the driver was speeding and on a cell phone at the time of the crash. Both speeding and distracted driving are common causes of catastrophic commercial motor vehicle crashes. When both bad driving behaviors are combined, the risk skyrockets.

The driver’s employer was also identified as being responsible for the school bus crash for poor oversight. The report found the company failed to take adequate precautions against risky behaviors taken by an inexperienced driver that it knew, or should have known would have been dangerous.

Whether it’s a school bus or a big rig, both commercial drivers and bus and truck owners always must act responsibly.  Otherwise, innocent victims too often suffer enormous deadly consequences.

If you were seriously hurt or you lost a family member in a crash with a large commercial vehicle, a lawyer who represents victims of motor vehicle accidents can investigate on your behalf to identify all those responsible.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog July 24, 2018