People in Southeast Massachusetts are taking a fresh look at the safety of school buses, as students in Berkley, Massachusetts were seriously injured in a recent bus crash. Unfortunately, we learned once again that all people within vehicles are in some danger, as the Berkley bus was apparently hit by a drunk driver. Students suffered a variety of injuries, some as serious as a crushed vertebrae and blood in the lungs. According to prosecutors, the drunk driver hit another vehicle, spun in front of the bus, and forced the bus driver off the road. While there has been no suggestion that the bus driver did anything wrong, it is never a bad time to look at ensuring our children are safe going back and forth to school.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “the school bus is the safest vehicle on the road.” That may be, but one topic that is frequently discussed for bus safety is availability and use of seat belts. It is unclear whether seat belts were used by any of the students on the bus, or whether they were even available. While both lap and shoulder seat belts are widely available, only six states require them on school buses. Massachusetts is not one of those states. Large school buses, such as the one involved in the accident, are “heavier and distribute crash forces differently than passengers cars,” according to NHTSA. As a result, the NHTSA focuses upon “compartmentalization,” which offers protection through closely-packed seats and energy-absorbing seat backs, and is supposed to protect school children without utilizing seat belts.
The issue of safety restraints on buses has been addressed in the past, even as recently as earlier this year. In May of 2018, the National Transportation Safety Board issued a recommendation that all states update seat belt policies. While the accident is currently being viewed as the fault of the drunk driver, the lack of seatbelts, or the choice to not use them, could still impact child safety.
In the past, bus drivers themselves have caused bus crashes, with causes including medical conditions and speeding. This poses a critical question: where should our resources go? In moving forward, is it more important to increase the safety measures in vehicles or is it more important to work towards educating people on dangerous driving activities? Alternatively, is it possible to achieve both in order to create a safer driving atmosphere?
While discussions about bus safety are productive, we must not lose sight of the true apparent cause of this crash- drunk driving. Unfortunately, and often tragically, drunk driving is frequently in the news. If you are ever injured by a drunk driver, please call the liquor liability attorneys at Mirick O’Connell. We have decades of experience getting maximum recovery for those injured by drunk drivers.
What Should You Do if You are in an Accident?
If you have been injured in a bus accident, whether it was caused by another driver’s negligence or the negligence of the bus driver, a Massachusetts bus accident attorney can help you understand your options. Our attorneys can help people injured in bus accidents in all phases of their claim. Beyond that, we will dedicate our firm’s significant resources to getting injured clients top dollar for their cases. Contact the personal injury attorneys at Mirick O’Connell today if you or a loved one has been injured in a bus accident. We will provide a free and confidential consultation about your case.