A collision between a car and a Hertford County Public Schools bus on the morning of May 20, 2014, sent 16 middle schoolers to the hospital. None of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening, but the wreck on Willoughby Road near the intersection with Ahoskie-Cofield Road is yet another indication that school bus safety requires constant attention.
Early reports on the crash near the rural northeast North Carolina (NC) community of Brantley’s Grove did not indicate whether police determined the bus driver or the person behind the wheel of the car was at fault. Regardless of what investigators eventually conclude, the facts that the two vehicles collided and that children got hurt raises concerns.
Numerous safeguards for school buses and their passengers exist, of course. Other vehicles must stop when buses take on and let off school children, school buses generally have right of way, and all drivers must, under law, avoid tailgating and cutting off buses. Too often, however, car, truck and motorcycle operators flout or ignore those rules of the road.
Regrettably, bus drivers themselves also cause many accidents. Only the completed police report on the Hertford County wreck will disclose whether the bus operator was impaired by drugs or alcohol, drifting out of the lane, attempting an unsafe maneuver or otherwise risking the physical health and lives of the children aboard.
As North Carolina personal injury lawyers, my colleagues and I have seen all such unfortunate circumstances. We also know that the only way to prevent those negligent, irresponsible and sometimes reckless behaviors is to convince drivers to make protecting children's safety a top priority. For now, all we can do is join the injured children's parents, family members, friends and teachers in wishing them speedy and full recoveries.