Articles Posted in School Bus Accidents

Employers from across the U.S. are realizing the dangers that are presented on our roadways when workers use their cell phone behind the wheel. To help to make our roadways safer for everyone, employers are taking it upon themselves and their companies to implement comprehensive cell phone policies.

To help these employers, the National Safety Council is recommending policies that ban the use of both handheld and hands-free devices behind the wheel. The Council recently announced the release of an updated Cell Phone Policy Kit that aims to keep up with the most recent distracted driving trends and statistics.

Companies, communities and organizations are all encouraged to take advantage of the NSC Cell Phone Policy Kit. By implementing more laws and regulations to regulate distractions behind the wheel, we can work our way to safer roadways be helping to reduce the risks of car accidents in Asheville and elsewhere.
In a 2009 survey conducted by the NSC, more than 2,000 NSC members responded and concluded that nearly 500 companies ban the use of both hands-free and handheld devices for some or all of its drivers. Nearly all of those who were surveyed said that productivity remained the same.

Our Asheville car accident lawyers understand that distracted driving is alarmingly common on roadways worldwide. According to recent surveys, drivers understand the dangers that are presented by distracted driving and support measures to help to stop this behavior, but still drivers aren’t willing to hand up the phone behind the wheel. Currently, there are 35 states that prohibit all drivers from texting behind the wheel. There are only 9 states, including the Virgin Islands and DC that prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones. In addition, there are 30 states, as well as DC, that ban novice drivers from using a cell phone while driving.

Still, with these laws in place our country saw nearly 5,500 roadway fatalities in 2009 because of distracted driving. Included in these statistics are another 450,000 injuries. Officials believe that this number is actually much higher as they believe that not all cases of distracted driving were reported in accident reports. With the statistics that we do have, nearly 20 percent of all fatal accidents involved a distracted driver.

The NSC Phone Policy Kit Includes:

-A sample of an effective comprehensive cell phone kit.


-A sample letter for the NSC President to company employees.

-Various posters and tip sheets to help to raise awareness about and educate employers of the dangers of distracted driving and of the new policies.

-A one year plan and roll out calendar.

-Various activities to help employers to discuss the topic of distracted driving. It’s important to get everyone on the job on the same page!
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It was a horrific scene: a fire on a Charlotte school bus with elementary children on board.

It happened earlier this month, and thankfully, the driver was able to quickly get all six of the children safely outside, just seconds before the bus burst into flames.


The children were on their way home from Chantilly Montessori Elementary School when the North Carolina bus accident happened.

The driver was applauded by the school district spokeswoman, who said the driver followed all procedures, adding that the scenario could have unfolded very differently had the driver not reacted quickly.

Images from the scene show the school bus fully-engulfed in thick clouds of black smoke – a terrifying picture for any parent.

Our North Carolina bus accident attorneys know the incident may seem like an odd, but rare occurrence. But in fact, as Charlotte 9 on Your Side investigators reported, there have been six bus fires in North Carolina over the last two years.

The station began its investigation into the bus fire situation last year, and concluded that four of the buses were Freightliner, Thomas buses that were more than a decade old. All four had been caused by electrical problems in the engine.

In the most recent instance, the reporters discovered this was the same type of bus. However, authorities think the fire may have started as a result of a problem with the heater, rather than the electrical wiring.

This is of little consolation for parents whose young children ride those buses every day.
Derek Graham, who is the chief of transportation for the state’s schools, said officials in his office are going to be looking for recommendations for anything the district should be doing in order to avoid another bus fire.

Considering, though, that these bus fires continue to occur, it seems strange that more action wouldn’t be taken. After all, six incidents in two years would seem to indicate a trend that should be acted upon by school officials. While no students have been injured in these instances, it seems it may only be a matter of time. Is that a chance the district is willing to take?

Graham responded to the news station’s questioning on this by saying that they “don’t have any reason to believe that those buses need to be taken off.” He said the buses are inspected every 30 days, and the district mechanics were notified of the most recent fire and to be on the lookout for any future issues.

Graham went on to say that there is no evidence this is an increasing trend, saying the Charlotte school bus fire was an isolated incident.

In that case, according to CNN, the driver smelled a burning scent, and pulled over to look into it. That’s when she noticed smoke was creeping into the bus from under the dash, and hurried the students off the bus. She said the students, ages 5 to 10, remained calm, and got off the bus one-by-one through the rear, emergency exit. They then walked to a safe distance away, but could still see as the bus ignited into a fireball, with flames shooting out the windows and through the roof.

The driver’s quick-thinking likely saved these students. But how long before a similar incident in North Carolina proves deadly?

School officials maintain buses are still the safest mode of transportation for students. Our North Carolina bus accident attorney want, at the very least, for parents to be aware.

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After a recent school bus accident in Greenville, six students were taken to the hospital with numerous injuries. According to one witness, the accident was so bad, one student even passed out at the scene. The South Carolina Highway Patrol reports that the accident happened when the driver of a pickup truck crossed over the center line and ran head on into the Greenville County School District school bus in the opposite lane of traffic on West Georgia Road.
According to News Channel 7, rescue crews had to cut the pickup truck driver out of his vehicle and had to rush him to Greenville Memorial hospital via helicopter. Six students from Woodmont Middle School were taken to Hillcrest Hospital. A seventh student and the driver of the bus were taken to Greenville Memorial. The most recent updates regarding this accident state that the driver of the pickup truck has been charged with driving under the influence.

As we’ve recently reported on our North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, traffic crashes involving school buses are oftentimes blamed on the bus driver. Unfortunately, in many other cases, they are the fault of other motorists. Just as we have to alter our driving habits around large trucks, drivers need to alter driving habits near buses. It’s not just for our safety, but for the safety of students as well.

The American Safety Council is here to offer a few safety tips to help us when traveling around school buses. Drivers are encouraged to review these tips and to share them with the drivers in their family. We all need to work together to help to reduce the risks of serious accidents on our South Carolina roadways.

Safety Tips for Driving Around School Buses:

-Always stop for school buses when they are dropping off or picking up students. It’s the law. Stop when following a bus that has activated its red or amber lights. When approaching a bus that is coming from the opposite direction with its lights on, you’re required to stop if you’re traveling on a two-lane road. On a four-lane (or bigger) road, you do not have to stop, but you should slow down and pass with caution.

-You may proceed when a school bus retracts its stop arm and stops its flashing lights.

-Don’t cut off a bus when driving because these large vehicles have a tougher time stopping than the vehicles that you and I have.

-If you’re caught for passing a school bus illegally, you can face a $1,000 fine and maybe even 30 days in jail for a first offense. You’re also looking at six points on your driver’s license.

-Remember that during periods of inclement weather, buses may be allowed to stop on the regular route at safe points nearest the house of each child. Still, buses are not permitted to leave regular routes. In poor weather, be ready for irregular stops.

-Never follow buses too closely.

-Drive slowly in all residential areas.

-Leave early for work in the morning so you’re not forced to rush around school buses.

-Always drive with your headlights on so that children and bus drivers can see you.
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A 24-year-old and his 7-month-old baby were transported to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital after an accident with a school bus in Currituck County, according to News Channel 3. His vehicle slammed into a school bus on Highway 168.
“All I could see was the school bus, but underneath, I could see the car wedged underneath,” said Audrey Scanlon, the owner of the pizza shop on the road where the accident happened.

Our North Carolina car accident lawyers understand that traffic accidents involving large vehicles, like buses and trucks, frequently result in serious injuries and death. These larger vehicles overpower passenger vehicles like the ones you and I drive. Occupants of smaller vehicles oftentimes sustain a majority of the injuries and fatalities during traffic accidents with buses and trucks. Drivers are asked to be cautious when driving near these large vehicles to help to prevent any injuries or death. Driving around these vehicles require caution and attention.

Emergency response teams had to cut the 24-year-old driver and his baby out of the car that was wedged underneath the school bus. Luckily, the driver only suffered from a broken arm. Injuries could have been much worse.

According to the North Carolina Highway Patrol, there were only the driver and four kids on the school bus at the time of the accident. None of the bus’ occupants were injured. The driver of the school bus has been cited by law enforcement for failing to yield.

Authorities worried that the accident could have resulted in explosions, as well. Many can’t believe that the accident wasn’t more catastrophic.

The driver of the passenger vehicle remains in the hospital and was last listed to be in fair condition.

Millions of students rely on school buses to get to and from school and other school-related events every year. Parents rely on bus drivers to keep their children safe during these road trips. Parents expect these drivers to be responsible and cautious with their children on board. They also expect school bus drivers to abide by common road laws to help to ensure the safety of other motorists.

It’s estimated that there are roughly 9 billion trips made by 240,000 school buses every year. Still, nearly 30 school-aged children are killed on these rides every year. To make matters even worse, hundreds of thousands more are injured during the same time.

“Although accidents do occur, the yellow school bus is still the safest way to transport children to and from school,” said Pete Japikse, of the American School Bus Council.

Safety Tips for Drivers near School Buses from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT):

-Be sure to always leave adequate room between your vehicle and a school bus. You never want to tailgate a school bus or cut in front of one.

-Stop if you’re moving in the same direction as a bus that has stopped.

-Stay stopped until the bus starts moving.

-Keep a lookout for children on all sides of the bus.

-Obey all traffic signs and signals.

-Always pay attention when traveling near school buses. Curb distractions.

-Do your part t keep school zones and bus stops safe.
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You may remember back in June when we posted on our North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog about the North Carolina bus company that was told to cease operations following a fatal bus crash on its way to New York City.

A few weeks later, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that United Tours Inc. also a North Carolina-based bus company, be shut down, declaring the company was an imminent hazard to patrons using the company to travel.
Even though summer tourism season has come to a close, Charlotte bus accident lawyers know that fall tours to see autumn foliage will continue the next few months, so consumers should use a reputable company to avoid a serious injury in a Hickory bus accident.

Last month, the FMCSA held roundtables in four different regions asking stakeholders, as well as, the community to help present ideas and discuss how to strengthen motor coach safety and keep passengers out of danger while they travel. The ideas and strategies of the future will include:

  • Creating awareness among safety advocates, consumer groups, law enforcement officials and other stakeholders in the industry to emphasize the importance of safety.
  • Identify problem areas in already established policies and revise to make them better.
  • The motorcoach industry must be educated and trained in purchasing motorcoach services, maintenance and operations by devising valuable tools and resources.
  • Strengthen the community and stakeholders to take personal responsibility for making buses safer.

North Carolina has a total of 35,332 registered buses operating throughout the state. Almost 11,000 of these buses are operated for private (school and other) and commercial use; the rest are publicly owned. The government wants to put the responsibility on the consumer to put safety first, but in reality the motor coach and commercial bus industry has a responsibility to take precautionary measures to keep passengers safe.

Some charter companies are guilty of falsifying logbooks, not doing routine maintenance checks on buses or hiring unqualified drivers. When an accident occurs, many times the negligence or liability can be traced back to the driver or charter bus company.

Tour planners or tourists wanting to take a fall bus tour are encouraged to review a charter company’s safety performance scores which can be compared to the national average by visiting FMCSA online. Any company that is issued unsatisfactory or conditional ratings is generally considered a higher risk to the safety of passengers.

Buses that carry 16 passengers or more should have at least $5 million of insurance coverage. Check to see that the company you intend to use is sufficiently covered and operating under the authority of the FMCSA. If you notice a company is in violation you can report them by calling 1-888-368-7238.

For example, if a driver is traveling at an excessive speed, a bus is overcrowded or you notice faulty equipment, the company should be reported to the proper authorities. Violations for in-state charter companies can be reported to North Carolina Utilities Commission or city and county transit authorities.
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Summer is coming to a close, so kids are scampering to gear up for another school year while parents are faced with the anxiety of how their kids will get to school safely each day.

Most would agree the big yellow bus is probably the safest mode of transportation for our kids, which is why so many parents rely on the school system to transport their kids to and from school, sporting events, and school activities.
Asheville injury lawyers want parents to understand that you do have rights if your child is injured in a school-related accident, so don’t be afraid to exercise them. School bus-related accidents in Statesville, Gastonia and elsewhere can occur in front of your home, at a school drop off zone or just about anywhere, and they don’t always involve another vehicle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that school transportation-related crashes kill an average of 19 school-age occupants each year nationally, of these, 6 are typically pedestrians. Forty-three percent of school-age pedestrians killed in bus-related accidents were ages 5 to 7 between 2000 and 2009.

Due to the fact that the dangers outside of a bus when children enter and exit are equally as hazardous as when a child is involved in a bus crash, the National Safety Council urges parents to talk to their kids about bus safety. It only takes a second for an accident to happen, so take a few minutes to go over some important reminders that will keep your children safe throughout the school year.

  • Don’t rush to the bus pick-up location.
  • Even if it is at the end of the driveway, make sure you are waiting in plenty of time.
  • Stand back from the curb when a bus is pulling up to a stop.
  • If you must cross the street to get on the bus, wait for the bus driver to signal that it is OK to cross.
  • Always walk in front of the bus, never behind.-Use the hand rail when you get on and off the bus.
  • Use quiet voices when you are riding on the bus. The bus driver needs to focus on driving, not on bad behavior.
  • Prepare for your drop off location by gathering your things together ahead of time.
  • Keep personal items like books or backpacks in the seat or on your lap, not in the aisle.
  • When you leave the bus, wait for the bus driver to nod or give a hand gesture that it is fine to cross the street.
  • Always be alert for vehicles on the roadway.
  • Always make yourself visible by never hiding behind or near a wheel of the bus.

The NHTSA offers a printable tool that makes it fun for kids to learn about bus safety, walking or riding a bike to school. To view and print Gus the yellow school bus guide, click here.

The Back-to-School Safety Checklist is a helpful tool for parents to use before your child heads back to school. Traveling to school safely and minimizing school-related injuries can give you and your child peace of mind throughout the school year.
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A bus driver has been charged after a Cary, North Carolina bus accident involving three buses injured 38 students, Fox8 reported.

The Asheboro City School Bus rear-ended another Asheboro school bus, causing a chain-reaction collision that involved a third bus. More than 30 students were transported to area hospitals. The bus driver responsible for the accident was cited for failure to decrease speed as necessary to avoid colliding with another vehicle.

He will be fined $193 if convicted and has a court date scheduled for Feb. 10.

The crash happened as a total of 158 students from North Asheboro Middle School were going on a field trip to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. A fourth bus was not involved.

Many times, school bus accidents in North Carolina or school transportation accidents occur during field trips or other outings and not during regular scheduled morning or afternoon bus routes. Schools, busing companies and bus drivers still have an obligation to ensure the safe of students during such field trips. Earlier this year, a horrific school bus accident outside St. Louis killed several students and injured more than 50 after one of the buses slammed into a semi during a field trip to an amusement park. Two school buses were involved in that accident.

In the Cary accident, uninjured students, teachers and chaperones were taken to a Marriott until school officials could arrange for their transportation back to school.
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A Jamestown, North Carolina school bus accident last week is a reminder to parents and children of the risk associated with riding a bus and the obligation of bus drivers and school districts to keep children safe during transport.

As we reported earlier this year on our North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog, school buses are a relatively safe form of transportation — with an average of just 19 fatalities occurring each year in the United States.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that half of those are pedestrian accidents or accidents as students are loading or unloading.

However, thousands of others are injured each year in busing accidents, and car accidents in Charlotte, Raleigh or elsewhere in North Carolina can quickly be fatal when a school bus or large truck is involved.

In this case, the Jamestown News reports that the Guilford County school bus was carrying 49 middle school students when a tow truck ran a red light at the intersection of Vickrey Chapel and Guilford College roads.

The front of the bus was severely damaged and the bus driver and seven students were injured. The 45-year-old Dallas, North Carolina tow truck driver was charged with running a red light.

“School bus accidents are so unpredictable and, unfortunately, some type of accident is going to occur,” Jeff Harris, the school’s transportation director, told the Jamestown News. “We just have to pray for the best.”

He said the school system in Guilford County uses 624 school buses that carry more than 40,000 students a day.

Meanwhile, the North Carolina General Assembly continues to dither about whether to require school buses to have seat belts. A federal rule announced earlier this year will begin to require seat belts in large commercial buses. However, school buses were excluded, in part because of cost considerations.
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