In the last months of school in North Carolina, there were a few reports of different school bus accidents. Though dozens of car accidents happen in the state every single day, it is the unexpected ones, like those involving school buses, that garner the most attention. Though they are not very common, these kinds of accidents can be pretty deadly. After all, children are almost always the victim.
Though they are pretty rare, school bus accidents involving other cars can very often be avoided. All it takes is a good knowledge of the rules of the road and how to drive around school buses. Though it may be inconvenient, driving slowly and getting out of the way of buses could potential save the lives of the children being transported, as well as other drivers around you.
Nationwide Statistics You Need to Know
The latest figures from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration regarding school bus accidents are from 2003 to 2012. In that time, there were nearly 350,000 total fatal accidents on the road. Of those, about 1,200, or 0.35 percent, of those involved school buses — that’s about 120 a year. From those accidents, 1,353 were killed. Here’s how those numbers break down:
Most people killed —176 victims — were over 19 years of age. However, at least 160 of the victims were school-aged, whether they were on the bus or off of it. Not surprisingly, the majority of the accidents happened during school bus pickup and drop-off times: 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Yet, even with all of these statistics, traveling by bus is still one of the safest ways for children to get around. In fact, children and teens are 50 times more likely to get to school alive via bus than any other form of transportation.
Safety Isn’t the Only Benefit
While school buses are a great way to safely get students to class, there are additional ecological and financial benefits as well. According to the NHTSA, every school bus keeps about 36 cars off the road. That’s more than 17 million cars every single morning. With so many fewer cars traveling the road, over 2 billion gallons of fuel are saved annually. It also accounts for an annual savings of $6 billion. Finally, the national carbon footprint is reduced by nearly 45 billion pounds of carbon dioxide.
From a more relatable perspective, think of this: You may see four or five buses on your commute. That accounts to at least 160 cars not in your way. That reduction in traffic makes for an easier commute. It also means you can roll down your windows without worrying about nearly as much pollution. You are able to get home quicker in the afternoon (though it may not seem like it), and therefore spend more time with your kids. Really, buses are simply a win-win all around.
Doing Your Part to Ensure Safety
The only way buses can really be a safe way for students to get to and from school is if other drivers do their part. When you are traveling near one, you should treat it like a semi-truck. Give the bus plenty of space on all sides. It has many blind spots; if you can avoid driving beside one for extended periods of time, do so. Stay far behind it to account for any kind of sudden braking, especially if you are following it in a neighborhood.
North Carolina has specific laws regarding driving near school buses, similar to others around the nation. The most important laws are regarding when to stop. Whether you are on the same side of the road or traveling the opposite way, you must stop when a bus employs its stop sign. This goes for two-lane roads up to multiple-lane highways. The only exception is if there is a physical barrier between your side of the road and the bus, or you are on a highway at least four lanes wide with a turn lane in the middle.
The most important thing you can do if you are sharing the road with a school bus is to be patient. It will drive slower than you probably like, and will frequently make stops. Driving recklessly can lead to a terrible accident that can cost the lives of children, drivers and pedestrians. No amount of time you may save by zipping around buses is worth the value of human lives.
You put your children on the school bus in the morning and barely give it a thought. Your children have been riding the bus to and from school for years without incident. Imagine getting a phone call that your child was not only involved in an accident while riding the bus, but taken to the hospital with injuries.
That scenario played out for the parents of eight Broughton High School students on November 4, 2014. 25 students in total were riding the bus as it crossed through downtown while transporting the children home from school. An otherwise uneventful ride quickly turned dangerous when the bus was involved in a collision.
According to reports, the collision occurred at the intersection of West Morgan Street and Glenwood Avenue. Laura Hourigan, an employee with the Raleigh Police Department, stated that the driver of the personal vehicle was cited for making an improper turn. The eight children injured in the accident were taken to area hospitals where the exact nature of their specific injuries was not released.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, only 0.35% of all fatal motor vehicle accidents between 2003 and 2012 involved school buses. During that time period, 1,353 people have been killed, at an average of 135 per year, in school-transportation-related collisions. 71% of those killed were occupants of the other vehicles involved in those crashes.
In the school-transportation-related fatalities, 49% of the accidents involved impacts to the front of the school bus. 46 of the people who died in these accidents were drivers; the remaining 60 were passengers.
Are School Buses Safe?
According to the NHTSA, school buses are still considered to be the safest mode of transportation for students going to and from school. In fact, when it comes to student fatalities involving collisions, 58% were traveling by teen driver, 23% by adult driver, and only 1% by school bus. The NHTSA reports that students who travel by school bus are 50 times more likely to arrive alive.
When a school bus is involved in an accident, it is definitely newsworthy. These events cause parents to rethink their choice to put their childrens’ lives in the hands of a virtual stranger. When it comes down to it, however, a school bus is still the safest mode of transportation for your young student.
Accidents happen. Vehicle collisions are an unfortunate part of driving. Statistics simply do not matter when you or a loved one has been injured as the result of someone else’s negligence.
If you or your child has been injured in an accident involving a school bus, the experienced car accident attorneys at Auger & Auger want to fight to get you everything you deserve. We have recovered millions for our clients who are just like you. With over 25 years of experience in North Carolina, you can rest assured that our attorneys have the knowledge it takes to assist you. Reach out to Auger & Auger today for a free consultation. We are here for you.
A 2-ton box truck driving too fast around a bend in the road crashed into a school bus that was stopped with its red lights flashing. Fortunately for the student waiting to board, the bus driver saw the oncoming truck and did not open the doors, preventing the student from boarding. That student told police he saw the bus propelled forward 40 feet as he was nearing the bus to board.
Sixteen of the students onboard were rushed to Carolina East Medical Center.
Police have charged the truck driver, Sidney Roundtree, with No Operator’s License and Unsafe Movement.
All drivers have a duty to maintain an appropriate speed for the conditions, to look out, and to follow the rules of the road.
Eighth grade students from North Asheboro Middle School were headed to the North Carolina Museum of History and Natural Sciences on Monday when the driver of one of their school buses caused a wreck. Driver Boyce Goldston was charged with Failure to Reduce Speed as Necessary to Avoid Colliding with Another Vehicle. Two other buses had stopped at a red light when they were rear-ended by the bus driven by Goldston. A fourth bus was not involved.
It is the duty of every driver to maintain a proper lookout and maintain a safe distance between vehicles. If you are injured due to the negligence of a distracted driver, you may be entitled to compensation. For your free consultation, call Auger & Auger.
Our Charlotte, North Carolina car accident lawyers want to remind you to exercise extra caution on the roadways as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will begin classes on Wednesday, August 25. School buses are already navigating Charlotte’s roads learning their routes.
Under North Carolina law, motorists are required to stop when a school bus is operating flashing red lights or has its mechanical stop sign displayed. The only time a vehicle is not required by law to stop is when a vehicle is traveling in the opposite direction of the school bus and is on a divided highway made up of four or more lanes that are separated by either a median or center turn lane.
Traffic Team 9 of WSOCTV has identified the heaviest traffic spots as Old Statesville Road between Huntersville and Harris Boulevard, Park Road between Johnson Road and Sharon Road West, Monroe Road between Village Lake Drive and Rama Road, and Pineville-Matthews Road between Providence Road and Alexander Road.
Five middle school children were recently injured when their bus rear-ended an SUV. Driver, Charles Wynn, was found to have a blood-alcohol level of .20, which is five times the legal limit for the operator of a school bus. He was charged with DWI of a Commercial Vehicle, Operating School Bus after Consuming Alcohol, and Driving While Impaired. His license was immediately revoked and a trial is set for August 12, 2010 for the outstanding charged.
Injuries resulting from school bus accidents are very infrequent. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a school age child is 61 times more likely to die in a crash in a passenger vehicle than on a school bus. That study also found that in a 10 year period, almost 5,600 school age children were involved in fatal accidents while in a passenger vehicle, whereas in that same 10 year period, 37 fatalities occurred while a passenger on a school bus.
Accidents involving drunk drivers occur far too often. It is most shocking when the people we entrust to safely transport our children, their school bus drivers, are the ones who are driving drunk.