• Transportation Safety
  • Report
  • K-12

School Buses and the Danger of Driver Distraction

Alyssa Keehan, Esq., CPCU, ARM
April 2021

Why Read This

School bus accidents can have significant ramifications for those injured, their families, friends, and your whole school population. Crashes can have acute financial tolls as well. According to a United Educators (UE) study, these crashes amount to 16% of the total number of public school claims, costing more than $7 million in losses.

In 2020, a school district agreed to pay a $4.8 million settlement to the family of 16-year-old girl who died in a school bus fire after the bus got stuck in a ditch. The family sued the district for negligence and wrongful death, contending the district knew the driver had been in poor health but still let him drive. An independent investigation blamed the school district for letting the driver drive even though it knew he had trouble walking.

Although bus accidents may result from other drivers’ negligence, too often they involve driver inattentiveness. The subject of driver distraction has consumed lawmakers’ and regulators’ attention. The Department of Transportation (DOT) created a website to combat the issue of driving while distracted, and April was declared National Distracted Driver Awareness Month.

Examine this report to learn more about the types of distractions drivers are likely to encounter and about strategies your school can use to address distracted driving.

Key Takeaways

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates 2,841 people were killed in 2018 due to crashes involving distracted drivers — 8% of fatal crashes were reported as distraction-affected.
  • In its analysis of motor vehicle crashes in 2019, NHTSA notes that the proportion of bus crash fatalities increased slightly when comparing 2019 to 2010.
  • A comprehensive approach to tackling driver distraction includes adopting policies that address the problem, provide information and training on distracted driving, adopt appropriate conduct codes for students, and consider technologies that can help limit the effects of driver distraction.

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