A rash of early-morning school bus accidents across the country – in Florida, Indiana, Mississippi and Pennsylvania – over the course of a single week have highlighted the serious scourge of distracted driving. Florida bus accident attorneys understand these incidents collectively ended in the deaths of five students, while six others were hospitalized.
Florida law very clearly outlines the rules for drivers encountering school bus stops. F.S. 316.172 requires any driver who approaches a school bus displaying a stop signal to bring their vehicle to a full stop and not pass the bus until the signal has been withdrawn. The only exceptions are motorists driving on a divided highway with an unpaved space of at least 5 feet, a raised medium or physical barrier; they aren’t required to stop when traveling the opposite direction.
Tougher Penalties for Florida School Bus Accidents
In July 2017, the Cameron Mayhew Act when into effect, bumping up the minimum penalty for Florida school bus accidents caused by motorists illegally passing a stopped school bus resulting in injury or death. Mayhew was a 16-year-old from south Fort Myers who was struck by an illegally passing car as he got off the school bus. Now, motorists who cause school bus accidents by illegal passing are required to serve 120 hours of community service in a hospital or trauma center; participate in a victim’s panel; attend a driver-improvement course; pay a $1,500 fine and have their license suspended for one year.
As the boy’s father later lamented his son was killed “because someone was running late to work, and the time clock was more important than the warning lights on the school bus.” Other states like Mississippi, with Nathan’s Law, have tried to accomplish the same thing. Sadly, as the recent spate of bus crashes and student pedestrian accidents show, we have drivers who have yet to learn these lessons.
One Week, Five Serious School Bus Accidents
The string of fatal bus crashes resulting in student injuries and fatalities are all attributed by authorities to distracted driving. They include:
- In Indiana, a 9-year-old girl and her twin 6-year-old brothers who were killed after being struck by a pickup truck as they crossed the street to board their school bus. A fourth child was seriously injured and airlifted to a hospital.
- The following day, a 9-year-old boy in Mississippi was struck and killed while crossing the street to board his school bus.
- That same day, a 5-year-old Florida boy was injured in a Tallahassee school bus accident while crossing in front of his school bus. The kindergartner has since been released from the hospital.
- The day after that, a 7-year-old boy was found dead near his bus stop in Pennsylvania, the apparent victim of a hit-and-run while he waited at his school bus stop.
- Later that morning, five children were injured (two seriously) as were two adults when they were struck by a driver in Tampa, Florida as they waited at a school bus stop.
Traffic homicide investigators say school bus accidents are preventable, and are too often the result of distracted driving. For example in the Tampa case, police have ruled out darkness or impairment as potential causes. Our Orlando school bus accident attorneys recognize it’s not just smartphones, but digital dashboard displays and other mobile technology that has become so incredibly common. The National Transportation Safety Board’s latest estimates that in a single recent year, nearly 3,500 people were killed and more than 390,000 injured in car accidents involving drivers who were distracted.
Orlando school bus crash lawyers are committed to fighting for just compensation for victims of school bus accidents and their families.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
School bus stop crashes kill 5 in 3 days, amid “huge problem” with distracted driving, Nov. 1, 2018, By Kate Smith, CBS News
More Blog Entries:
Personal Injury Compensation Guidelines in Florida Hired Driver Accidents, Oct. 25, 2018, Orlando School Bus Accidents Attorney Blog