School Bus Weather Related Accidents
School buses operate throughout the school year and in all kinds of weather, depending on where you live. Of course, severe weather conditions may lead to school cancellations or early dismissal if a major storm is imminent. When driving in bad weather, school bus drivers need to aware of the limitations of their vehicle and to make decisions that will ensure the safety of their young passengers.
Bad weather comes in all types-sleet, snow, hail and heavy rain. After a snowfall or cold rain, frigid temperatures can make for extremely hazardous driving. School districts have to weigh safety against getting children to school and decide in favor of safety if conditions are likely to be treacherous or they have notice that roads are not particularly safe.
Duty of Care
Schools or the private contractors retained to handle school busing have a duty of care to their occupants. State and federal regulations address safety issues such as hiring and training bus drivers, conducting periodic drug and alcohol tests, implementing and following a maintenance and inspection process and training drivers on supervising the children on board. Failing to adhere to government regulations and standards that lead to an accident can result in civil liability on the part of the school, school district, private bus company if applicable.
Essentially, drivers need training on handling a school bus in all types of weather. Of course, ensuring that tires are not worn or have snow tires or possibly chains and that braking and steering systems are efficiently working is vital. Buses have longer stopping distances than passenger vehicles and drivers need to take this into consideration when approaching cars stopped at light or sign or if in heavy traffic.
Speed is often a factor in weather-related accidents. If you are traveling at the posted speed limit in heavy rain or snow, you are likely driving too fast and can be ticketed. Modern school buses sometimes have on-board cameras that can present data or information on the driver’s conduct in the moments before an accident including its speed.
Liability in a school bus accident can be established by eyewitness accounts in most cases by other motorists, pedestrians or even the bus occupants. Drug and alcohol testing of the bus driver after an accident is routine and may reveal that the driver was under the influence. Buses are also examined after serious or fatal accidents to determine if a mechanical failure of a defective part or piece of equipment contributed to the accident.
Injuries in a school bus accident range from bruises to severe injuries such as broken bones, cuts and internal bleeding from glass shattering and head injuries if the bus overturns. Large school buses are not required to have seat belts, so a strong impact or rollover can propel student passengers into the back of seats, into windows or into the aisles.