On Nov. 21, a school bus crash in Chattanooga injured 12 people and killed 5 children, according to The Tennessean. The bus driver was speeding when he lost control of the vehicle, causing him to swerve off the road and hit a telephone pole and a tree. This tragedy has caused families in Tennessee to wonder what regulations are in place to ensure school bus drivers keep children safe.
Durham School Services, the private company that owned the bus, has had 142 crashes with injuries and three fatalities in the past 2 years, according to The Tennessean. In Shelby County, there were 31 injuries and one fatality as a result of 27 crashes involving the company.
With these countless accidents involving school buses, Memphis parents may feel anxious about putting their children’s lives into the hands of bus drivers. However, you can feel more at ease by reading up on these regulations for school bus drivers, designed to keep kids safe.
Obey Speed Limit Signs
School bus drivers are required to follow posted speed limit signs, especially when children are on the bus. Bus operators who obey speed limit signs can maneuver safely on turns and curves, which is a critical responsibility for a driver, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.
In the Chattanooga bus crash, the bus driver was going faster than the 30 mph speed limit on the narrow and winding road, according to WMC Action News 5. Witnesses on the scene stated that the bus was weaving in the lane, before the driver lost complete control of the vehicle. This accident could have been prevented if the driver had slowed down on the curvy road.
Monitor and Inspect Buses
Bus operators are responsible for monitoring the safety of their buses, according to the TDSHS. An inspection, which includes checks on tires, turning signals, and brakes, should take place before the bus heads out onto the road.
In addition to bus drivers checking their vehicles, school bus inspectors also conduct annual and follow-up inspections on buses during the school year, according to TDSHS. These inspections are done randomly to make sure that buses are being properly maintained and are safe for children.
Meet Driver Fitness Standards
School bus companies and their drivers have to make sure that they are able to meet certain qualifications in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an agency that works to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.
The Driver Fitness Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) is one of seven categories that the FMCSA uses to determine how a motor carrier ranks in relationship to others when it comes to safety, according to the FMCSA.
BASIC helps to determine if a driver is unfit to operate a commercial vehicle due to a lack of training, experience, or medical qualifications, according to the FMCSA. It shows a motor carrier any safety violations that may cause them to rank poorly, which includes a failure to have a valid commercial driver’s license.
The FMCSA determined that the Durham company had many problems when it came to driver fitness in relation to its peers. Durham had eight driver violations since 2014, with seven of the incidents involving drivers who didn’t have the appropriate license needed to operate the vehicles they were driving, according to the Tennessean.
What If My Child Was Injured on a School Bus?
If your child was hurt on a school bus during an accident, there is likely someone you can hold responsible for their injury. Our bus accident attorneys can help you pursue your claim, and may be able to get compensation for your and your child’s suffering. Fill out our free, no-risk case evaluation form to find out if you have a case.