As Maryland personal injury lawyers, I and my colleagues recognize that not everyone can avoid exposing themselves to the many and varied dangers out there on our public roads and highways. This is why we always warn friends and associates to be all the more cautious when driving in dense traffic or taking public transportation.
Naturally, as a motorist, one has more control over any given driving situation than a person who is riding as an occupant of a commuter train, municipal shuttle or school bus. And although passenger car occupants are in a smaller vehicle, they also have the advantage of seatbelts and airbags to protect them in a crash; the same cannot be said for most bus riders. We won’t go into the dangers associated with motorcycle accidents here, but even with a helmet on bikers have less protection overall than commuters on a city bus or a driver in a small economy car.
This latter category is particularly concerning, since children are very precious to their parents and relatives, yet as they get older and begin going to school, they are more and more out of their parents’ control. This is why we believe that the potential for school bus accidents, whether during normal school hours or on extended field trips and traveling to sporting events, can weigh particularly heavy on parents and guardians.
One of the more tragic aspects of a bus accident, be it a city bus, airport shuttle or school bus, is that these commercial vehicles typically hold many more occupants than a typical passenger car or even a large SUV or minivan. In the case of a traffic collision involving a bus, the number of injured can be literally multiples of a similar automobile wreck. Large commercial buses and those vehicles used by schools to transport students are by their very nature large and mostly lumbering motor vehicles.
Even under even normal circumstances these vehicles are a handful, but under bad driving conditions they can be difficult to control once an emergency situation arises. In such a case, a potential roadway accident could seriously affect the lives of a dozen or more people at the same time, never mind the individuals in smaller vehicle who may also be involved, as well as bystanders on the roadside.
Since most buses are designed for comfort of the passengers inside, their overall height can be quite tall. This increased height also affects what engineers refer to as the vehicle’s “center of gravity,” or CG. All things being equal, a vehicle with a higher CG will be more prone to tip over during an extreme handling maneuver than a lower-riding vehicle. Combined with the increased mass of these large commercial vehicles and one can only imagine the physical effort that might be required to keep a bus under control in an emergency.
All this comes to mind after running across a previous news article that described a traffic accident involving a school bus and a minivan at the intersection of Ensor and Madison streets in the Baltimore metropolitan area. According to police reports, 11 students were riding on the bus when the accident occurred around 3pm in the afternoon. Based on news items, the vehicle was carrying kids from the National Academy Foundation, school #421, to a soccer game at another school.
A spokesman from the Baltimore City Police stated that bus and a minivan collided, though an investigation was ongoing at the time of the news report and there was no further information on the exact cause of the collision. In addition to 11 students who were treated for non-life-threatening injuries, the bus driver was also injured, as well as the minivan driver and a pedestrian who apparently was hit by the minivan as a result of the roadway crash.
When emergency responders arrived at the crash site, they found the minivan wedged between the bus and the side of an apartment building. Fire department authorities stated that the driver of the minivan and the pedestrians all received serious injuries and needed to be taken to the hospital emergency room for treatment. The students were also taken to the hospital, but news reports indicated that their injuries were relatively minor.
13 Hurt In School Bus-Van Collision, WBAL.com, October 16, 2012