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Recent Bus Accidents Shine Light on School Bus Safety

This past week had more than its share of school bus accidents in the US: in Indiana, the driver of a bus hit an overpass without braking; in Washington, a bus rolled over after it went off the road; in Ohio, a bus rolled over onto its right side into a ditch. Here in Schuylkill County we had our own bus accident when a driver failed to follow a right curve and went off the road, striking an embankment. According to the RepublicanHerald.com, the driver will receive a citation for failure to drive on roadways laned for traffic.We’re happy to report that there were no students on the bus at the time of the accident that happened in Butler Township. Also, the driver was not injured. The bus was on its way to pick up students when the driver said she swerved to miss an animal. Staff from our law offices have children who travel by bus to schools within the North Schuylkill School District, so this story especially hit home for us.

These accidents have also raised concerns about school bus safety, according to an article on the Huffington Post. Federal law requires seat belts on school buses weighing less than 10,000 pounds, but 80 percent of the nation’s school buses don’t fall into that category. Only six states (New York, New Jersey, California, Florida, Texas, and Louisiana) have laws that require seat belts on school buses.

The article also notes that seat belts aren’t the only safety issues on school buses. It can be difficult for bus drivers to steer the bus and monitor children’s behavior. But it is the driver’s responsibility to report misbehavior to the school. The article said when school districts own a fleet of buses and the drivers are district employees, they are usually better screened, supervised, and monitored than if the district contracts with a private company for buses and drivers. If you believe a bus driver is engaging in dangerous or suspicious behavior, report it to the school district immediately. Or, if your child tells you about misbehavior on the bus, report it to the principal, as it can be a potentially dangerous situation for all those riding on the bus.