Our children are at a greater risk of being injured when they get on and off the school bus than when they are riding in the school bus. Across the nation and especially metro Atlanta, reports of school bus-stop accidents are rising. 1 in 4 child pedestrian fatalities happen between 3 and 7 pm. These car versus pedestrian accidents can cause significant, long-lasting injuries and even death to young children on their way to and from school.
Gwinnett County is the 3rd largest transporter of children in the United States according to Bus Fleet Magazine. It has been reported that Gwinnett County transports more than 133,660 students twice a day. That is no small feat or fleet with 45,076 bus stops in the district that means the chance of someone getting hurt getting off a school bus is quite significant in Gwinnett County.
Fines for Not Stopping for School Buses
In an effort to keep our children safe, Gwinnett County began installing cameras on all buses to catch drivers that were not obeying school bus stop lights. Not stopping for a school bus can result in an initial fine of $300 and for repeat offenders a maximum of $1000.
One would think that when the lights on a school bus are flashing yellow, then red, that all the nearby drivers would come to a complete stop. However, this is not always the case. Many drivers are distracted and fail to pay attention. Other drivers just don’t care and are more focused on getting to their destination on time, rather than waiting a few seconds for a few children to exit the school bus.
Drivers Not Always to Blame
But, the “Danger Zone” that surrounds a stopped school bus cannot be blamed on just on other drivers. A recent report from the Georgia Association of Pupil Transportation children themselves play a part in school bus-stop accidents. In addition to the bad drivers around, children are most likely to be hit because they:
- Hurry to get on or off the bus, failing to look in both directions
- Wear headphones and don’t pay attention
- Act on impulse and have little experience with traffic
- Assume other drivers will see them and will wait for them to cross – they have innocent minds
- Drop something as they get on or off the bus and run into traffic to pick it up
The moral of the story is: everyone needs to be more careful around school buses with flashing yellow or red lights. Whether you are driving in the same direction or the opposite direction, you need to come to a complete stop and just wait.
Who is at Fault for a School Zone Accident?
Fault, also known as “liability”, is determined by a number of factors including, but not limited to, the parties involved, weather, road conditions, lighting, etc. In Georgia, as long as the injured party is found to be less than 50 percent at-fault for an accident, they are eligible to receive financial compensation for the injuries they sustained.
However, in cases involving school bus-stops, adults are held to a higher standard than children in terms of understanding and following the rules of the road. This means that an adult who injures a child in at a school bus-stop will usually be more responsible than the child. We all understand that children can be unpredictable and their behavior at the bus-stop is not always stellar. It is important to remember that school bus safety needs to be discussed regularly not just with the child standing at the bus stop, but for that young driver, and older drivers too.
Hire an Experienced Attorney
Finally, if you or a loved one has been injured in a school bus-stop accident, you need to consult with an experienced attorney who specializing in these types of accidents. The highly trained lawyers at Georgia Trial Attorneys are willing and able to work with you and to help prosecute your case against the greedy insurance companies.