A two-month campaign to promote safety around school buses led police in Indiana to issue nearly 2,700 tickets and 1,400 warnings for unsafe driving near school bus stops and along bus routes, state officials say. Reckless drivers who disregard traffic laws around school buses and bus stops pose a risk to school children and should be held accountable.
Citations issued by nearly 40 police departments across Indiana during the first months of the 2019-20 school year include 453 tickets for bus stop-arm violations and 1,239 for speeding. Police also issued more than 170 citations for failing to stop at a stop sign or stop light or for equipment violations, according to a news release published by WSBT-TV in South Bend.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a new school bus safety law that took effect in July 2019 that prohibits bus drivers from loading or unloading students at any location that requires the student to cross a roadway, unless there are no safe alternatives. Indiana law requires a school bus to use red flashing lights while loading and unloading students and requires motorists to stop while the bus’s stop arm is extended.
School bus stop safety gained greater attention in Indiana after three children were fatally struck and a fourth child was injured in 2018 while crossing a highway to board their school bus near Rochester. A year later, a driver involved in the crash was found guilty of three felony counts of reckless homicide and additional charges.
The family of those siblings joined efforts to have the new state law enacted.
Additional police patrols during the bus safety awareness campaign were funded by a $380,000 grant from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to the Stop Arm Violation Enforcement (SAVE) program, which was administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.
The ICJI is accepting applications for the next round of SAVE grant funding in January, according to the news release.
Indiana State Police say drivers should obey the law and be aware of increased pedestrian traffic during the school year, especially around bus stops and schools. They also offer several school bus safety tips that children who ride a bus should learn.
School Bus Safety: Every Parent’s Concern
The NHTSA says students are about 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking a school bus rather than traveling by car. That is because school buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road. They are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in preventing crashes and injuries.
But every Indiana parent is keenly aware that school bus accidents do happen. School children are at the greatest risk of being injured when they are boarding or getting off of the bus.
According to NHTSA statistics, more than half of the school-age pedestrians fatally injured in school-transportation-related crashes were struck by school buses or vehicles functioning as school buses.
Between 2008 and 2017, 1,241 people were killed in school-transportation-related crashes —an average of 124 fatal bus accidents per year. Twenty-one percent of those who died were school-age children (18 and younger). Of them, 10 percent were occupants of school transportation vehicles — a school bus or a non-school bus functioning as a school bus to transport children to or from school or school-related activities — and 20 percent were pedestrians or bicyclists.
Most of the people who lost their lives in school bus accidents were occupants of the other vehicles involved in the crash, the NHTSA says. A school bus is much larger and heavier than a passenger car. In a collision, the bus delivers a greater force of impact while better protecting its occupants.
2019 School Bus Accident Statistics
In August 2019, School Transportation News reported that in the 2018-19 school year, there were at least 2,551 injuries to school bus student passengers and passengers in other vehicles involved in bus accidents. Two-thirds of the injuries occurred to children who were riding on school buses. However, most injuries were reported to be minor. A total of five students, one adult volunteer and five bus drivers were killed while riding a school bus the last school year.
Overall, the odds are in students’ favor. School Transportation News (STN) calculated that, based on the American School Bus Council claim that 26 million students ride a school bus each day to and from class in the U.S., far less than 1 percent of all students who rode school buses were injured during the 2018-19 school year.
STN says that more than half of school bus-related crashes were either the fault of the other driver or there was no blame assigned. Out of the 1,365 reported crashes, 226 (16.5 percent) were found to be the fault of the school bus driver, school district or private bus company. The reasons cited included mechanical or medical issues that happened while the bus was in operation.
Contact An Indiana Bus Accident Attorney If You or Your Child Were Injured
If your child has been injured while riding, boarding, or leaving a school bus in Indiana, or you have been injured in a school bus accident in Indiana, the attorneys at Craig, Kelley & Faultless are available to help. Our school bus accident attorneys can work to establish the facts of the case and help you demand full compensation if someone else’s negligence caused you or your child harm.
If the bus accident claim is against a school district, you only have a limited amount of time to notify the school system and comply with the strict statute of limitations. Don’t delay in reaching out to our qualified bus injury attorneys for assistance. Contact us today by telephone or online for a free consultation. If you are unable to come to us, we can travel to meet with you.