Only a few days ago a school bus carrying 40 students from Bolton High School swerved over a lane and side-swiped into a tractor-trailer. The report from News Channel 3 claims that the driver is now facing charges for the accident, and that the tractor-trailer driver is not implicated in any wrongdoing. The driver and 10 students were rushed to the hospital for treatment, but thankfully no one was critically injured.

While this story may have a “happy” ending, in that everyone lived and only the driver sustained injuries bad enough to keep her in care, the accident is part of a larger trend across the nation of school bus accidents. Tennessee, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas have all seen horrific school bus accidents in the last few weeks alone, including some tragic fatal accidents.

Causes of school bus injuries

In the Shelby County case, the driver crossed over the center line, but no facts have been given about what caused her to do it. In other cases, however, bus drivers and other cars may have been to blame. Drivers, motorcyclists and students have all been injured because of:

  • Distracted driving
  • Defective or malfunctioning brakes
  • Road rage by other drivers
  • Lack of seat belts on school buses
  • Being struck by another vehicle

School buses, like tractor-trailers, RVs and other large-scale motor vehicles, have particularly poor visibility when it comes to make turns; it’s why their side-view mirrors are often so large, and why many have smaller mirrored “bubbles” on the bottoms of them. When drivers attempt to pass or cross a bus making a turn, the chances of a serious accident can increase. It may also explain why maintaining lane control proves so difficult for many drivers.

One way to protect students from future accident may be to install seat belts on buses for the students. Currently, only six states require that buses are equipped with safety harnesses of some kind; Tennessee is not one of them, relying instead on the cushioned and densely-packed seats to protect students in the event of a crash.

Seat belts may not have helped the Bolton High students when the windows blew out, but they offer another layer of protection. It may be time for Tennessee to review their laws again, to make sure we’re keeping our students as safe as we can.

For more information about bus accidents, please visit our website.