Many parents rely on the school district to safely transport their children to and from school. Like any other type of vehicle on the road, school bus driving carries the risk of a motor vehicle accident. An accident involving a school bus can injure students, drivers, and others on the road. After an injury accident in Colorado, talk to an experienced Denver accident lawyer for legal advice about your options for recovery.
School Bus Safety Features
School buses have changed little over the past few decades. The National Transportation Safety Board recommends all new school buses carry 3-point seat belts, which are generally the same design as most drivers have in the driver's seat of a car or truck. However, the NTSB does not have the authority to require school buses to have these seat belts.
Colorado does not have a state law that requires the use of safety belts for school bus riders. Many school buses in Denver do not have seat belts for children. Most of the schools that have seat belts do not require students to put them on.
Bus Driver Training
Other ways school buses are supposed to provide safe transportation for children include driver training and traffic laws. School bus drivers have to go through specialized training but that does not ensure the drivers will follow the traffic laws. In the past, some school bus drivers have been accused of driving the bus while under the influence, drowsy driving, or failing to stop for traffic signals.
In September 2019, a bus driver in Brighton was taking children to school when she veered and lost control of the vehicle, sending the bus off the road and into a rollover accident. The accident caused 8 people to be sent to the hospital with injuries. According to investigators, the bus driver said she was tired when the accident occurred, and she was charged with reckless driving.
School Bus Traffic Laws
Under Colorado law, vehicles must stop at least 20 before reaching a school bus with red flashing lights. This applies to vehicles traveling in both directions on a two-lane road. Drivers have to remain stopped until the flashing red lights are turned off. Violating a school bus traffic law is a misdemeanor offense, and can be punished by a fine and 6 points on your driving record. However, drivers violate this law all the time, putting children at risk of serious injury.
In January, a vehicle did not bother stopping at a stop sign, crashing into a school bus and causing the bus to flip over. There were 13 children on the bus at the time, with 4 students transported to the hospital for evaluation. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries. After the crash, 5 passengers fled from the accident, leaving the scene of the hit-and-run crash.
School Bus Traffic Accident Statistics
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), school bus-related accidents killed 109 people in the U.S. in 2019. The majority of fatalities involved occupants of other vehicles and only about 6% of the fatalities involved school bus passengers. Pedestrians, school bus drivers, and cyclists were also killed in school bus accidents. However, for non-fatal injuries, about one-third of the injury victims were school bus passengers.