School Bus Accidents a Back to School Hazard for Children in Portland, Bangor

Summer will be coming to a close soon so as parents begin to prepare their kids for going back to school, our Maine injury lawyers want to remind parents and children to use precaution when waiting to be picked up at the curb or at bus stops and in school drop-off zones.

School districts have a responsibility to maintain buses, hire responsible drivers and maintain a safe environment for your children. If your child is injured while waiting for a bus at school or is involved in a school bus accident in Bangor or Portland on their way home from school, a personal injury lawyer can help you determine who is to blame for the cause of injuries and what litigation is needed to compensate for damages.

The Portland Press Herald recently reported about the three-vehicle collision involving an SUV, a sedan and a school bus on Interstate 295. An elderly man driving the SUV crossed over the center strip into northbound traffic, according to the report. The SUV hit an oncoming car which spun into a school bus carrying 30 elementary students and 6 staff members. A passenger in the car remains in critical condition but no other life-threatening injuries were reported. The accident is still under investigation.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that over 25 million students are transported on approximately 474,000 school buses each year across the U. . For the 11 years preceding 2008, an average of 5 students were killed in school bus accidents each year. During the same period, an average of 8 fatal crashes occurred each year in a school bus-related accident. Countless others are injured each year in accidents.

Maine Department of Transportation reports that 80 percent of children in Maine rely on a school bus to transport them to and from home each day, as well as to school-related activities. Maine averages 130 school bus accidents each year.

Motorists are required by law to stop for a school bus with red flashing lights or be fined a minimum of $250 for the first offense. No vehicle may begin motion until signaled by the bus driver or until the bus begins to move again. A bus driver can report illegal activity by other vehicles to law enforcement. The speed limit for school zones during opening, closing or recess is 15 mph unless otherwise marked.

Bus safety tips recommended by Maine DOT:
-Never approach a moving bus while waiting at the curb. Wait for the bus to come to a complete stop, for the lights to start flashing and for the driver to motion it is ok to get on.

-Stay seated during the ride at all times.

-Make eye contact with the bus driver and look both ways before you cross in front.
-Parents should allow plenty of time when getting their kids to school.

-Loading and unloading areas usually have rules. Parents and children should both be aware of loading zone rules in your school.

-Pay attention. One fourth of school bus accidents occur because of driver inattention.

-Never follow school buses too closely as they stop frequently.

If your child has been injured in a Bangor or Portland bus accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates for a free consultation and advice about how to successfully pursue your case. Call 1-800-804-2004.

Additional Resources:
Last week’s multi-vehicle crash on I-295 still under investigation, by Emma Bouthillette, The Portland Press Harold
Maine Area Leads Nation in Increased Number of Car Accidents, Maine Injury Lawyer Blog, April 8, 2011
Skiing Accidents, School Injuries, can Lead to Portland Premise Liability Claim, Maine Injury Lawyer Blog, January 18, 2011