The driver of a school bus that crashed in Chattanooga, Tennessee in late 2016 was recently found guilty of six counts of negligent homicide. In November 2016, the school bus was carrying 37 elementary school students when it tipped over and crashed into a tree. Six children died in the crash. In another crash that occurred in late January, a Houston County school bus overturned while transporting 35 students. One student died in the crash and multiple others suffered injuries.
School buses use compartmentalization to protect students from the impact forces caused by a collision This is why many large school buses do not have seat belts. High seatbacks with padding, close seating and energy-absorbing technology can sometimes protect bus occupants during a wreck. However, compartmentalization cannot protect children in crashes like those that occurred in Chattanooga and Houston County. Rollover crashes can kill or severely injure school bus occupants who are not secured with three-point seatbelts (the type used in your passenger vehicle). Side impacts and crashes where school buses leave the road can also cause injuries and deaths.
Three-point seatbelts could offer more protection for school bus occupants in crashes where compartmentalization fails. Several states have passed laws requiring districts to install three-point seatbelts. California, New Jersey and Texas all have school bus seatbelt laws. Georgia does not have a school bus seatbelt law nor are state lawmakers considering legislation addressing this issue. Presently, Georgia counties can opt to install seatbelts on their school buses. Fulton County schools recently became the first in our state to install three-point seatbelts.
What If My Child is Injured in a School Bus Accident?
You should speak with one of our Macon bus accident lawyers if your child was injured in a school bus crash. During a free consultation, our attorneys could discuss whether there are legal options to recover compensation. We have extensive experience with auto accident cases involving large vehicles.