While some school districts employ a bus monitor to supervise children, many public school systems rely on the driver alone to both transport and supervise kids on their way to and from school. Over the years, concerns have increased regarding behavior that goes unchecked because a school bus driver's attention is focused on the road. This behavior is being documented more frequently due to the popularity of smartphones.
Fights Lead to Crashes
Over the last few years, there have been news reports across the country documenting school bus crashes due to a fight distracting the driver. In April, an Illinois bus crashed due to a fight, sending nine people to the hospital.
Do fights have to cause crashes? Many school districts do have policies in place that instruct bus drivers how to best deal with a fight that occurs while they are driving.
Drivers Must Follow Protocol
According to Jesus M. Villahermosa Jr., president of Crisis Reality Training Inc., and an expert in training drivers for emergencies, most school policies outline the following:
- Notify dispatch that a fight is occurring on the bus, and give the location of the bus. That way, help can be sent in case the driver cannot diffuse the situation alone.
- Pull over safely - spots like a store or church parking lot, or a side road, are usually the safest.
- Tell bystander students to stay away from the fight, in order to prevent further injury.
- Do not leave the driver's seat - verbally order the students to stop fighting. Physical intervention can escalate the situation, and is actually forbidden by some school districts.
While drivers do not have to intervene physically, they are almost always required to follow steps similar to those listed above in an attempt to stop a fight.
When Drivers Are at Fault
When a school bus fight leads to a distracted driver, causing a crash, the situation is often very complicated and may take a while to sort through. If a driver follows school protocol but still crashes, his or her fault is questionable. If a driver does not follow protocol, however, he or she is most likely at fault for the crash, even though there was a distraction.
School Bus Accident Victims
Because this type of accident is both rare and complicated, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced attorney if your child is involved in a school bus crash. A distracted driver who does not follow protocol, or a school district that does not have proper protocols in place, may be liable for your child's injury. A knowledgeable Kansas personal injury attorney like the ones at Norton & Norfleet, P.C., can help determine who is at fault, and will fight to protect you and your children. If you have questions about the process, speak to us now at (816) 607-4750.