A rear-end collision between a school bus and a landscaping truck in Northern Virginia killed a crew member and sent both drivers to the hospital with serious, but survivable, injuries. No students were on the bus at the time of the deadly crash on the morning of May 23, 2018.
According to police in Prince William County, VA, the bus driver failed to stop or change lanes when approaching the work truck, which had parked in the right lane of Old Carolina Road to begin a job. The crew member who lost his life was standing behind the truck setting up a work zone sign when the bus struck him and pinned him against the back of the truck.
The 53-year-old man died at the scene near the intersection of Old Carolina Road and Piedmont Vista Drive in the town of Haymarket. Police did not immediately file charges, but it appears that the bus driver may have violated section 46.2-921.1(A) of the Virginia Code.
That statute, titled “Drivers to yield right-of-way or reduce speed when approaching stationary emergency vehicles on highways,” places the following requirements on all drivers:
Upon approaching a stationary vehicle that is displaying a flashing, blinking, or alternating blue, red, or amber light or lights … shall (i) on a highway having at least four lanes, at least two of which are intended for traffic proceeding as the approaching vehicle, proceed with caution and, if reasonable, with due regard for safety and traffic conditions, yield the right-of-way by making a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the stationary vehicle or (ii) if changing lanes would be unreasonable or unsafe, proceed with due caution and maintain a safe speed for highway conditions.
While the landscaping truck would not qualify as an emergency vehicle, it would have flashers. Additionally, the sign the worker who got killed was setting up would have warned approaching drivers of the need to move over.
As Virginia wrongful death attorneys, my colleagues and I know that school bus drivers are not exempted from any traffic laws, and they must act to protect the safety of workers in work zones just like everyone else. Because bus drivers do cause crashes that leave others injured and dead, the Virginia Department of Education requires public school districts and private schools to insure all their vehicles and drivers. The family of the deceased landscaper, as well as the injured landscaping truck driver, have strong grounds for filling claims against the insurance policy covering the bus driver.