At any one time, children represent both a precious commodity as well as one of the most vulnerable assets any family has. As many parents will attest, having kids is a joy like no other, but the worry and concern, not to mention the responsibility, that comes with parenthood can be unnerving to some, if not all mothers and fathers. In the home, we can watch over youngsters, though even the safest household can be fraught with hidden dangers. But when children start to play with friend outside, or begin their school careers, parents must relinquish much of the control they once had to others in whom they must place all of their trust.
For kids who ride on school buses, they can face possible injury should there be a mistake on the part of any number of motorists, truck drivers or operators of large commercial vehicles. We won’t even go into the potential for disaster should a safety-related vehicle component fail while a bus is traveling at highway speeds. The point here, at least from our standpoint as Baltimore personal injury attorneys, is that a bus accident can affect not just one person, but many; not just one child but children of multiple families.
Large commercial vehicles, such as buses, many times are very tall, overall. While this allows the occupants to conveniently move around inside the vehicle, it also results in a much higher center of gravity; sometimes dangerously so. Unlike passenger cars and even sport utility vehicles, which themselves can be prone to rollover-type crashes given the right circumstances, school buses and commercial tour buses, as well as municipal commuter buses, can be hard to control under emergency situations.
Even with a skilled, professional driver, a rollover accident can be just moments away should a motorist accidentally cut off a bus on a high-speed expressway or even if the weather turns inclement, making the pavement very slick and reducing the safety margin for the bus driver. Quite often, a bus wreck can occur when the driver is not familiar with the roadway, the local area he or she is driving through, or during a bad snow storm or heavy downpour.
As we mentioned earlier, there have even been instances where a critical operating system, such as the vehicle’s mechanical controls — steering components and braking system parts come immediately to mind — malfunction and cause a loss of driver control. In some cases involving a mechanical failure, the bus owner and/or the operating company assigned to maintain the vehicle could be held responsible if routine maintenance had not been performed as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
Whatever the cause of an accident involving a school bus, the results can be tragic. We are often reminded of this whenever we run across news articles like the one we saw not long ago. According to reports, a couple school buses where caught up in a serious accident along a stretch of Interstate 95. The multi-vehicle crash, which slightly injured two people, also included an 18-wheeled semi tractor-trailer and a passenger car.
First off, we were relieved to read that no children were aboard either of the school buses at the times of the traffic collision. Based on police reports, the crash happened a little before 9am when the commercial big rig apparently struck the back end of the first school bus. The force of the impact reportedly caused the school vehicle to veer off the roadway, onto the right-hand shoulder and into the adjacent concrete barrier.
Nearly at that same instant, a passenger car crashed into the rear of the semi-trailer. Subsequently, the second school bus, driven by a woman from Elkton, Maryland, grazed the side of the big rig, knocking only the sideview mirror off the bus. The crash caused minor injuries to the 65-year-old driver of the first school bus, as well as to the 33-year-old driver of the Chrysler passenger car. The incident did cause a four-lane shutdown on the southbound side of I-95 for about two hours.
At the time of the news report, no charges had been filed against any of the drivers and the police were still in the middle of their accident investigation.
Tractor Trailer, School Buses, Car involved in Crash; NBCPhiladelphia.com, October 1, 2012