New York lawmakers have taken a step to increase safety for children transported by school bus. School buses must now be equipped with cameras, with each city responsible for the cost of installing and maintaining the camera system. The purpose is to identify drivers who put children at risk by failing to operate the bus safely or the negligent driving of others that led to a serious or fatal school bus accident.
School Bus Accidents in New York
School buses are generally considered to be a safe way for children to travel to and from school. Even with an overall favorable safety record, with school buses being involved in less than 1 percent of the traffic fatalities yearly, four to six school-age children die every year while being transported by school bus, as reported by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). Many of the accidents in New York are the result of bus driver negligence, and the installation of cameras may reduce the numbers even more – acting as a reminder for drivers to operate the school bus safely, and as required by law.
Protecting Our Children is a Priority
School bus drivers carry precious cargo – our children. We assume that the bus driver will be operating the bus safely, but unfortunately, this is not always the case, as was illustrated in a recent school bus crash in NJ, when a negligent bus driver caused a collision with a dump truck by cutting across three lanes of traffic to try to illegally turn the bus around, resulting in the death of a child and a teacher.
School Buses and Safe Driving
Drivers in New York must comply with the law when sharing the streets or highways with a school bus. When a stopped school bus has flashing red lights, traffic from either direction is required to stop, including when the bus is in front of a school or a school parking lot. You must stop at least 20 feet from the bus. When you see the bus flashing yellow lights, decrease your speed and prepare to stop.
Once stopped, you must wait until the red lights stop flashing, or for a traffic officer to signal you to pass. All vehicle drivers in New York must be concerned with more than just following the law – but be aware that children are nearby, and proceed slowly, watching for children when moving forward. Most school bus deaths occur after a child has left the bus.
Safety Tips That Can Save Lives: School Buses
Children are in danger when walking or running to catch the school bus, and drivers should follow these safety rules:
- Double-check before backing out of your driveway or your garage. Walk to the sidewalk and look for children before you back out, and back out slowly, in every case.
- Drive slowly through residential neighborhoods. Children may be playing on the street or sidewalks, waiting at bus stops, or crossing streets to catch the school bus. They may or may not look both ways – it is up to you to be careful.
- If you see a school bus that appears to be moving in an unsafe manner, notify the authorities at once. Cases of alcohol or drug intoxicated bus drivers have occurred.
Who is Liable?
The installation of cameras can help establish who is liable for serious injuries or deaths in a school bus accident. The collision may be the result of:
- School bus driver negligence
- Lack of proper school bus maintenance
- Defective school bus design
- Faulty school bus parts
- The actions of another driver
- A school district that failed to screen school bus drivers
School Bus Accident Statistics
Nationwide, about 26 million children ride school buses every day. The National Safety Council reports that in a recent year, approximately 3,000 children were in a school bus accident. More than half were caused by another driver, with 16.5 percent caused by the bus driver, school district, or bus company. The New York weather plays a role – but school bus drivers cannot blame the weather, as driving conduct and the speed of school bus operation must reflect the weather conditions.
School Bus Accident? Contact Us.
At Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, we prepare every case for the courtroom – we believe our clients deserve it. Our focus on the meticulous preparation of all relevant facts, along with an in-depth knowledge of the applicable law and the best expert witnesses. We are proud to have achieved a reputation for excellence in personal injury law. If you have a New York school bus accident case, we urge you to connect with us immediately by calling (212) 986-7353.