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School Zone & Bus Accidents

Don't be that guy: the distracted or careless guy that somehow misses the flashing yellow lights indicating he has entered a school zone and has to slow way down. Or worse: the guy who, instead of heeding the red, octagonal shaped warning signs spreading like wings from the sides of a stopping school bus, drives around and passes the bus--lest he be late for work!

These actions evoke a justifiable cringe from the witnesses in the area. The children getting on and off the school bus and crossing the streets within the school zone are still developing their peripheral vision, speed and depth perception, and coming to accept that they are not, in fact, the Flash. As a result, laws are in place to protect children en route to school, requiring heightened caution and awareness of drivers in the vicinity. In Massachusetts, the school zone speed limit is twenty miles per hour, and drivers must remain at least one hundred feet behind school buses at all times.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") reports that each year, nine school-age children are killed while walking by school transportation vehicles, and another four are killed as passengers in cars involved in school bus-related accidents. Moreover, NHTSA found that school-age pedestrians are killed during prime school pick-up and drop-off times (between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. and between 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.) with more frequency than any other times.

Another concern is the danger posed to children as passengers on school buses. Each weekday, 24 million children are driven between home and school by 500,000 school buses. Although school buses are generally safe, approximately 17,000 children are involved in a school bus-related accident each year. In Massachusetts, the law does not require school buses to be equipped with seat belts, and most are not. This increases the possibility that a child will be thrown from his or her seat in the event of a collision or sudden maneuver by the bus driver.

If you or your child has been involved in an accident with a school bus, you may have a claim against the school district, the bus driver, and/or the bus company. The school district is responsible for hiring responsible bus drivers and implementing safety guidelines. The school district may be held liable for its drivers' negligence. The driver himself may be held personally liable if he is grossly negligent in the operation of the school bus. If the driver greatly exceeds the speed limit, or operates the bus while under the influence, he may be found to be grossly negligent. Finally, private companies retained by local cities to provide school transportation may be held liable if their buses are defective, causing an accident.

Many of the safety requirements for school buses apply to city buses and other commercial buses as well. Bus companies are responsible for providing safe buses in good repair and qualified drivers who are subject to safety guidelines. If you have been involved in a bus accident, you may have a claim against the bus driver, the bus company, and/or the city. If you believe you may have a case, take the time to speak with a competent personal injury lawyer who can assess the facts and case viability. We, like many personal injury lawyers, provide free, confidential consultations.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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