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Back to School Safety Tips for Children

Posted on in School Bus Accidents

IL injury lawyerThis month, children all over Illinois are returning to school - most of them in person. Whether your children are excited to be going back or resisting the early-morning wake-ups, their safety comes first. While all parents are somewhat anxious about sending their children off to brick-and-mortar schools this year, the risk of them sustaining a serious injury is fairly low - but not nonexistent. Typically, the most dangerous part of the school day is getting to and from school. No matter how your children get to school - walking, biking, riding the bus, using public transportation, or taking a car - there is some level of risk involved. If your child is injured on their way to school or home from school, you may be entitled to recover compensation on their behalf. An attorney can help fight for your child.

Staying Safe On a Bus or Train

Neither yellow school buses nor public buses nor trains typically provide seatbelts. This means that children - and other occupants - are more likely to be thrown about and injured in the event of a crash. Even a sudden stop or turn can prove risky. Children should:

  • Know evacuation procedures - School buses should do yearly drills. Even on public transportation, children should be familiar with the location of emergency exits.
  • Cross when directed - If your children need to cross the street when getting on or off a bus, it is crucial that they know to cross only when the bus is stopped. While there is still a risk of a careless driver passing a stopped bus, crossing only when instructed by the driver can reduce this risk.
  • Stay seated - Children should be seated at all times when the vehicle is moving whenever possible.

Staying Safe in a Car

Parents should ensure that children are wearing seatbelts at all times. Other than that:

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IL accident lawyerNot all school bus-related injuries are the result of a crash. While motor vehicle accidents involving a school bus are not as rare as one might hope, children are actually in more danger when they are getting on or off the bus. Additionally, a school bus does not need to be in an accident for a child to get hurt while riding on it. As you probably know, most school buses lack seatbelts, creating additional risks for children. If your child was injured while taking the bus to or from school, we may be able to help you recover the compensation your child needs and deserves. The first step will be to identify the liable party - it may or may not be the school district or bus driver.

School Bus Dangers Other Than Crashes

Children are not only at risk when the school bus gets into an accident. They can be injured in other ways associated with being a bus rider. Common ways that children are injured while taking the school bus include:

  • Being thrown - Without seatbelts, there is nothing holding a child in their seat when the bus makes a sudden movement. If the driver has to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision or has to swerve to dodge an obstruction in the road, a child can be tossed out of their seat. This can cause children to suffer injuries like broken bones or concussions.
  • Getting on and off - Children are not as graceful as adults. School bus steps may be steep, and handrails are not always easy for young children to use, especially when they have their hands full with school supplies. Falls while boarding or disembarking are common.
  • Crossing the road - Many children have to cross the street to get between their homes and the bus. This is by far the most dangerous part of a bus rider’s journey to and from school. If your child is hit by a car near the bus stop, it is very likely that the driver was disregarding a safety law or being careless and will be liable.

Recovering After a School Bus Crash

Children are not as well protected in the event of a collision as they probably should be. Your lawyer will first need to determine whose fault the crash was. If the bus driver was negligent in causing the crash, then your claim will be against the school district.

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IL injury lawyerWhen your child waves goodbye and climbs onto their school bus in the morning, you expect that they are going to make it to school and back safely. After all, school bus drivers know that they are carrying precious cargo. You would think that the safety training school bus drivers undergo would prevent most accidents and injuries, but this is not always the case. Just like city bus drivers, school bus drivers sometimes drive carelessly. Even if the bus driver did nothing wrong, issues like poor maintenance or other drivers can still cause accidents that injure children. Having a child get injured in a school bus crash or other accident can feel like a nightmare come true for many parents. If your family has experienced this disaster, you should turn to a skilled attorney for help securing compensation on your child’s behalf.

What Are the Most Common Causes of School Bus Accidents?

You would expect that at a minimum, the person tasked with driving groups of children to school each day would be well-trained and sober. You would also expect that the bus carrying your child is in good condition. You may be surprised to learn that common causes of school bus accidents include:

  • Driver intoxication - While is it rather rare for a school bus driver to be drunk very early in the morning, it is less uncommon for a driver to be using illicit stimulants. Like some long-distance truck drivers, some school bus drivers will use drugs with the false belief that the effects will keep them awake and alert. Instead, it makes them more likely to crash.
  • Poor training - While all school bus drivers have undergone some form of specialized training, these training programs are often not as thorough or intensive as they should be. Many school bus accidents are caused by a driver being put into a situation they have not been properly trained to handle.
  • Other traffic - Even the best school bus driver in the world could still get into a crash caused by another, more careless, driver. It is surprisingly common for school buses to be rear-ended by drivers who were distracted and failed to notice the bus stopping.
  • Maintenance - It generally falls to the county or school district to make sure that all school buses are well-maintained and safe to ride in. However, school bus maintenance issues do sometimes fall through the cracks. Anything from brake failure to a tire blowout can become very dangerous to the occupants.
  • Distraction - As you can imagine, driving a bus full of young children can be extremely distracting. However, drivers are expected to have control over their passengers.

These are just a few of the most common causes of school bus accidents. Your attorney will want to investigate to determine what type of negligence - and on whose part - caused the accident.

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Il accident lawyerMany parents rely on school buses to transport their children to and from school. While the vast majority of school bus trips are completed without incident, car crashes involving school buses can and do happen. Just recently, a school bus driver allegedly caused a crash while students were on board the bus. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt in the accident. The bus driver is now facing charges for drunk driving.

Bus Collision in Deer Park

The crash, which occurred on February 17, 2022, was caused by many different factors. Authorities say that the 61-year-old bus driver was driving north on Ela Road when he made a left turn onto Cuba Road and failed to yield to oncoming traffic. The slick, snow-covered roads made it difficult for other drivers to stop in time, and another vehicle plowed into the bus.

Police officers arrived at the scene of the accident and began investigating the circumstances of the crash. At this point, officers detected signs that the bus driver was intoxicated. Chemical blood alcohol content tests revealed that the bus driver’s BAC was over twice the legal limit. The driver now faces felony charges for aggravated driving under the influence (DUI).

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IL injury lawyerWith many Illinois students returning to in-person schooling in the coming weeks, school buses will become a common sight again on the roads. Just like any other motor vehicle, school buses are sometimes involved in accidents that result in serious injuries. Although these accidents are fairly uncommon, they can be some of the most complicated when it comes to recovering compensation. If you or your child is injured in a school bus accident, a personal injury attorney can help you determine who is at fault and take the appropriate steps to settle or resolve your claim.

School Bus Accidents in Illinois

Illinois has had its fair share of serious school bus accidents, with perhaps the most notable being a 1995 railroad crossing collision in Fox River Grove, in which seven students lost their lives. Certainly, not every school bus accident results in such tragic losses, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) reports that school buses are actually one of the safest forms of transportation for passengers. However, in 2019, there were still more than 1,200 school bus accidents in Illinois. More than 200 of those crashes resulted in injuries.

All told, in 2019, 85 school-age children and 39 school bus drivers were injured in Illinois school bus accidents. Occupants of other vehicles are also at risk of injuries in collisions with school buses, and they tend to suffer some of the most severe injuries.

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