Speed and driver distraction may have played roles in causing a rear-end collision between a public school bus and a large box truck in King George County, Virginia (VA), on the afternoon of January 30, 2018. A witness said the truck never slowed down before slamming into the back of the bus in the 8000 block of U.S. 301/James Madison Parkway.
Virginia State Police responded to the wreck a little after 3 pm and found the school bus knocked onto its side. Six children aboard received treatment for injuries that news reports described as minor. The bus driver and an aide aboard the bus suffered more serious injuries and were admitted to Mary Washington Hospital.
The driver of the box truck also sustained serious injuries. It is unclear whether charges will be filed. But troopers confirmed that the bus had its stop sign extended and its red warning lights activated. As the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles’ webpage on school bus safety reminds drivers, “When you see the flashing red lights and the stop bar, you must stop and allow children to get on or off the bus.”
When people behind the wheels of cars and trucks fail to follow those rules, children and school employees end up injured. During 2015, the DMV recorded 398 crashes involving school buses in Virginia. Those wrecks inflicted injuries on 60 drivers and 338 riders. Fortunately, none of the crashes ended with the death of a schoolchild.
When errors by drivers could be identified, the second-leading cause of crashes with school buses was failure to yield. The third most-common cause of school bus collisions during 2015 was following too closely. Either could result from speeding or taking one’s eyes and mind off the road ahead.
My Virginia personal injury law firm colleagues and I have helped families of students hurt by negligent and reckless drivers while going to or returning home from school. We have seen from those cases that simply not paying attention leads to many avoidable collisions.
Drivers who take to the road early in the morning and late in the afternoon -- which means most drivers -- must keep an eye out for school buses. They must also heed the flashers and stop bars. Doing so is a matter of following the law. More importantly, stopping when buses do prevents needless injuries to children and the school employees who serve the entire community.