In all of our posts about auto safety (e.g. avoiding distracted drivers) we have not discussed school bus safety. Given that thousands of children in our region are returning to school in the coming weeks, and that news about school bus driver shortages have garnered national headlines, it is about time that we do so. After all, given that school bus drivers have precious lives in their hands every day, they are under a higher level of scrutiny.
Despite this, the internet is replete with examples of how school bus drivers may not be following the rules of the road. Drivers are on camera running red lights, driving above the speed limit and not stopping at train crossings as required by state law. Indeed, not all the videos show that children are on these buses when these violations occur, but they do raise genuine concerns about bus safety in light of the recent driver shortages.
School district administrators believe that the driver shortage problem is not so simple. It takes time for qualified drivers to move through the application process, and the salaries for drivers may not be as competitive as other jobs. So those who may have previously driven buses may be drawn to more lucrative jobs.
Nevertheless, school bus drivers have a continuing duty to use reasonable care while behind the wheel. This means that they must obey speed limits and traffic laws, put down their cell phone while driving and avoid unsafe turns and lane changes.
Should a driver fail to use such care and an accident occurs because of it, the driver, and quite possibly the school district, could be held liable.