When you put your child on a school bus, you trust that they will get to school or come home safely. According to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), from 2000-2014 there was an average of 115 fatal school bus crashes in the United States each year. School bus drivers are expected to have specialized driver training and exercise the utmost care to ensure the safety of their young passengers and other people on the street. But sometimes things go wrong, due to either the negligence of the driver, defects in the bus, or negligence on the part of the school district.
Negligence of the Driver
Whether a driver is speeding, driving aggressively, or driving while distracted, a school bus driver can be held liable if their negligence results in an accident. These drivers have a responsibility to exercise the utmost care to ensure the safety of the children on the bus as well as other drivers and passengers on the road.
Failure to Properly Screen Drivers
In addition to keeping your child safe while in school buildings, the school district has a responsibility to keep your child safe while they are transported on a school bus. School bus drivers should be adequately screened and have clean driving records. The school should also make sure that all drivers are duly licensed and pass a drug screening.
Failure to Properly Train Drivers
Once drivers are hired, the district and the bus company have a duty to make sure that they are appropriately trained. School bus drivers are required to have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) with a special School Bus (S) designation. School bus drivers must take a written test and pass a school bus driving test in order to get an S designation, but they are not required to undergo any specialized training beyond CDL training to drive a school bus. Some jurisdictions, like New York City, require school bus drivers to get additional training when they are hired but not all area school districts have this requirement.
Driving a school bus provides unique challenges for a driver. Given the number of children on most buses, it can be easy for a driver to be distracted. Drivers should be given training on how to handle the distractions and safely drive with a bus full of rowdy students. In addition, school bus drivers should be trained on how to handle safety issues to protect students.
Improper Maintenance of the Bus
The New York Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) requires that bus owners and operators perform regular maintenance of school buses and keep records of this maintenance. School buses should be inspected by NYSDOT every six months. If an accident results from a bus not being properly maintained, a school district may be held liable.
Defects in the Bus
Sometimes an accident can be caused by a defect in the design or manufacturing of the bus. In those cases, the manufacturer of the bus can be held liable in a product liability case.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
If your child has been injured in a school accident, you should consult with an attorney. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we have helped injured New Yorkers for over 50 years. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MED-LAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits available. Se habla espaňol.