What Procedures Must a School Bus Driver Take in the Event of an Accident?

a school bus

School bus drivers are tasked with an immense responsibility. When we send our children to school and wave goodbye at the local neighborhood bus stop, we have a reasonable expectation that the operator of the school bus will be responsible, adhere to traffic laws, and take necessary steps to ensure the safety and well-being of our children.

Unfortunately, not all school bus ventures go smoothly. In fact, there are instances where school buses are involved in serious, life-threatening collisions. If an accident involving a school bus was the product of negligence, consider contacting an experienced bus accident lawyer in Texas to discuss your legal options. You, and your child, may be entitled to financial restitution for harms and losses suffered in the accident.

Procedures a School Bus Driver Should Take After an Accident

In the wake of a serious accident, a school bus driver needs to execute certain safety protocols to protect any children on the bus and to secure the vehicle so it is not involved in a subsequent collision. Following a school bus accident, the procedures a school bus driver should take include:

Secure the Vehicle

Following an accident, a school bus driver needs to make sure the bus is safely secured and out of further harm’s way. This includes displaying appropriate warning signs and not further moving the vehicle until instructed to do so by law enforcement or emergency personnel.

Check on the Bus Occupants

The bus driver needs to account for all passengers in the vehicle, including an assessment of whether or not the occupants suffered bodily injuries requiring emergency medical care. If they have the training, the driver should administer any immediate first aid needed while waiting for emergency medical services.

In addition, if it is unsafe to remain on the bus following a collision, the driver needs to immediately evacuate occupants from the vehicle. For example, if there is a threat of fire, everyone should be moved to a location away from the vehicle and at least 100 feet from the road.

Call the Police and Report the Accident

After securing the bus and checking on all of the occupants, the bus driver should immediately radio their dispatcher and provide the following information:

  • Their exact location
  • The school bus number
  • The route number
  • Name of the school
  • The seriousness of the accident (e.g., is the bus still operable?)
  • Any bodily injuries

School Bus Accident Statistics

The Lone Star State has the dubious honor of being ranked in the top three when it comes to the frequency of school bus accidents. For example, in 2021, Texas had the third-highest number of bus accidents in the entire country. If that wasn’t bad enough, Texas had the second-highest number of deadly bus-related accidents the same year.

According to the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS), a database managed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were more than 1,000 bus-related accidents in Texas resulting in more than 880 bodily injuries and nearly 20 deaths in 2021. The bus accident statistics in 2022 were somewhat improved. According to MCMIS, there were approximately 740 bus-related accidents resulting in 658 injuries and 11 deaths. Though, it is worth noting that in both years, the percentage of accidents resulting in bodily injury was roughly the same: 88 percent.

Even though bus accidents constitute a fraction of overall motor vehicle accidents in the United States each year, the havoc that can be wrought in a collision between a school bus and another vehicle can be devastating.

Most Common Causes of School Bus Accidents

The following are some of the most common causes of bus accidents in Texas and elsewhere across the United States:

  • Negligence by the Bus Driver: There are many state, local, and even federal laws in place attempting to regulate the bus driver profession. However, these laws can be disregarded by the operator of the bus. For example, there are rules and ordinances in place regarding bus speed, turning, and passing. Failing to adhere to these rules of the road increases the risk of a serious collision. In addition, some bus drivers may be negligent due to texting or making a call on their cell phones while operating the vehicle.
  • Negligence by the Bus Company: One of the most common causes of serious bus accidents in Texas and elsewhere in the U.S. is the negligent actions, or inactions, of a bus company. For example, there have been many instances in which a bus company failed to adhere to state and local regulations for bus maintenance and upkeep, failed to properly train drivers, and other significant infractions. This increases the risk of a bus accident occurring due to a defective part, faulty brakes, or a poorly trained bus operator.
  • Tires: Relatedly, under-inflated tires are another common cause of bus accidents and can pose a significant safety issue. Why? Because the radial tires commonly used on buses can hold their shape even with low air pressure. Nevertheless, when tires are operated at low air pressure, heat can build up quickly and a fire (or shredding of a tire) could be the end result.

As the accident statistics reflect, collisions involving buses routinely result in someone suffering a bodily injury, or injuries. Due to a lack of seat belts and the tendency for passengers to stand during rides, even relatively minor accidents involving a school bus can lead to bodily harm. Injuries commonly suffered in bus accidents may include the following:

  • Broken bones
  • Sprains
  • Lacerations
  • Muscle tears or dislocations
  • Internal injuries
  • Head injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries

If your child was injured in a school bus accident, now is the time to speak with an experienced Texas personal injury lawyer. The negligent bus company, bus operator, etc. should be held responsible for the costs associated with your child’s injuries and recovery. Contact a lawyer today to schedule a free, confidential case evaluation.

Have Questions? Reach Out to an Experienced School Bus Accident Attorney

If your child was seriously injured in a bus accident in Texas or throughout the state due to a vehicle safety flaw, a negligent bus driver, or a negligent bus company, contact the legal team at Slack Davis Sanger today.