Articles Posted in Bus Accident

A number of school bus students were rushed to the hospital this week following two separate Maryland motor vehicle accidents involving school transportation vehicles on Wednesday. An elementary school bus and a pickup truck collided in St. Mary’s County when the bus turned in front of an oncoming pickup truck and was struck.

Three of the students who were on the bus were taken to a local hospital, while the pickup truck driver, a Lusby man, was taken to Prince George’s Shock Trauma. Police say the bus driver failed to yield the right of way.

In another Maryland school bus accident, one man died in Garrett County after his vehicle was involved in an auto crash with a school bus. For reasons that are still not clear, the Ford pickup truck of 63-year-old Robert Charles Biers crossed the center line to collide with the bus. All 23 passengers on the bus were taken to Garrett Memorial Hospital so they could be examined for possible injuries.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

• There have been 1,389 school transportation-related crashes between 1997 and 2007.
• 1,541 people died in those crashes, which averages to about 140 school transportation-related deaths each year.
• 73% of the people who died were riding in the other vehicles.
• 7% of the those who died were riding in the school transportation vehicles.
• 20% of the people who died were pedalcyclists, pedestrians, and others who weren’t riding in any vehicles when the deadly motor vehicle crashes happened.

• 152 pedestrians younger than age 19 have died in school transportation-related collisions.

School buses are common carrier vehicles which means that the bus driver owes its occupants and other motorists an even greater duty of care than do regular drivers. Many school buses still lack safety belts, which means bus accidents can result in serious injuries—especially for young occupants.

School Bus Accident In St. Mary’s, MyFoxDC.com, March 25, 2009
Collision with Bus Kills Driver, Times-News.com, March 25, 2009
School Transportation-Related Crashes, NHTSA

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This week, the Maryland Senate approved by a 43 to 4 vote a bill banning drivers from text messaging whenever they are operating their motor vehicles. If the bill becomes law, it would make reading, composing, sending, or receiving text messages a misdemeanor crime punishable by a $500 fine. Maryland would also join a growing list of states and jurisdictions, including Virginia and Washington DC, that are banning text messaging—whether on a cell phone, PDA, or IPod Touch or another device—while operating a motor vehicle.

Sending short messages via cell phone or other electronic devices is a bad habit that has grown more popular in recent years—especially among younger, more inexperienced drivers. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, one of its studies last year found that about 50% of young drivers, ages 18 – 24, text message while driving. The study found that among drivers ages 45 and older, less than 5% engaged in text messaging while operating a motor vehicle.

Text messaging is a type of distracted driving, and like all other forms of distracted driving, including talking on a handheld cellular phone, applying making, or reading the newspaper, can lead to deadly auto accidents. ABC News says that a 2006 study showed that 65% of near-motor vehicle collisions and 80% of auto crashes occur because of distracted driving.

For example, one Maryland child lost her right forearm in a catastrophic bus accident that occurred while the bus driver was texting on his cell phone. 30 people were injured in this Maryland motor vehicle accident. In another traffic accident, a 26-year-old woman died last year in a truck accident when she was struck by a tractor-trailer while the truck driver had been texting.

These kinds of catastrophic motor vehicle collisions could have been avoided if the drivers had not been engaged in distracted driving.

Md. Is Latest State to Target Text Messaging by Drivers, Washington Post, March 18, 2009
Texting While Driving Could Spell Trouble, ABC News, May 8, 2007
Driving and Dialing Bus Drivers May Case Accidents, ABC News, Feb 7, 2007
Related Web Resources:

Examination of Maryland Senate Bill 98 (PDF)

Cell Phone Driving Laws, Governors Highway Safety Association

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The winter time can be a deadly time for Washington DC and Maryland motorists if they aren’t careful. Poor visibility and icy roads can only make the outcome of an auto accident, caused by negligent or careless driving, worse. To help prevent fatal auto accidents from occurring in snowy weather and icy conditions, Forbes.com offers a list of 10 common driving mistakes that can prove fatal in the wintertime:

1) Not checking the weather before you get in the car.
2) Driving too fast under current weather conditions. This can cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle on slippery roads.
3) Following too closely behind the vehicle or snowplow equipment in front of you. Allow greater distance between you and the other motorist than you would when there isn’t snow on the road. Do not drive using cruise control when the conditions are wet.
4) Overcorrecting your car on ice.
5) Driving while you’re tired.
6) Driving when there’s poor visibility.
7) Failing to get the car winter ready. Also, make sure you have an extra key that is easily accessible in the event that you get locked out of your vehicle.
8) Driving on back roads.
9) Not carrying an emergency tool with you, such as jumper cables, a spare tire, water, dried food, a cell phone, and warm clothing.

1) Leaving your vehicle if your car stops, which could be the warmest place for you to be.

According to a University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health study:
• Poor weather is a factor in 1.5 million of the car accidents that occur every year, resulting in 800,000 injuries and 7,000 deaths.
• Almost 20% of highway deaths involved poor weather as a factor.

• Driving the day after the year’s first winter storm is the most dangerous day of the year to operate a motor vehicle.

The National Safety Council recommends a number of safety tips for winter driving, including:
• Tune your engine.
• Check your battery.
• Make sure the fluids in your car are at the correct levels.
• Make sure your car is equipped with the proper equipment, including tire chains, a snow scraper, and a snow shovel.

• Have first-aid supplies and a compass with you.

In Depth: 10 Deadly Mistakes Of Winter Driving, Forbes.com

Safe Winter Driving

Related Web Resources:
All-Weather Driving Tips, Road & Travel Magazine
Baltimore, Maryland Weather, Maryland Weather

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A woman who was injured in a Maryland school bus accident in 2006 is suing the Cecil County Board of Education, school bus company owner Daniel W. Wagner, Sr., and school bus driver Thelma Ann Delp for personal injury. On March 6, 2006, Rachel Marie Couch, then 18, was driving a 1991 For Bronco on Maryland Route 272 when she was struck by a school bus driven by Delp.

Couch says she suffered mental trauma and sustained serious, extremely painful, and permanent injuries to her body, including head injuries, neck injuries, back injuries, and limb injuries because of the accident. She had to be flown by state police chopper to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

There were no students on the bus, which was traveling to Rising Sun High School at the time of the auto crash. Maryland State Police say the bus had stopped at a red blinking light in one of the lanes on Route 272 when she made a left turn and broadsided Couch’s SUV. Couch says there are skid marks on the road that show she tried to avoid the bus. Delp says she didn’t see any cars on the road as she was making her turn.

Media reports indicate that the bus-SUV crash is not the first auto accident to occur at the intersection. Critics say one reason is that there has been some confusion surrounding a traffic light at Route 272 and Tiger Drive.

School Bus Accidents

School buses are common carriers whose drivers owe other motorists and pedestrians a greater duty of care to safety than other drivers. School bus passengers and others on the road can be prone to serious injuries during a traffic accident. Most large school buses do not come installed with seat belts, which makes its passengers more prone to serious injury. The size of large school buses make them a dangerous moving object in crashes with smaller vehicles, such as cars, SUV’s, and motorcycles, as well as pedestrians.

Woman here files $3M suit over crash, Lancaster Online, January 15, 2009
Related Web Resources:

School-Transportation Related Crashes, NHTSA (PDF)

Cecil County Board of Education

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The National Safety Council wants all US states to ban motorists from using cell phones while driving. NSC CEO and President Janet Froetscher noted that talking on the phone while driving increases a driver’s chances of becoming involved in an auto crash by four times more than if he or she were driving without using one.

Currently, six US states have laws banning the use of hand held cell phones while driving:

• District of Columbia
• Washington
• California
• Utah
• New Jersey
• Connecticut

Seven US States have a ban on text messaging while driving:

• District of Columbia
• Connecticut
• Alaska
• New Jersey
• Washington State
• Minnesota
• Louisiana

While some localities within US states that do not have statewide bans have imposed their own cell phone restrictions, including bans on hand-held phones and text messaging and bans affecting teen drivers and school bus drivers, the states of Kentucky, Florida, Nevada, Louisiana, Oregon, Mississippi, Utah, and Louisiana prohibit their localities from imposing any such bans.

The NSC is quick to point out that just because someone is using a hands-free phone does not mean that he or she is now operating the vehicle safely. According to a Harvard Center of Risk Analysis 2003 study, cell-phone use while driving is a contributing factor in 6% of auto accidents each year. Some 2,600 deaths and 330,000 injuries result from such collisions.

According to a Nationwide Insurance public opinion poll, 81% of US drivers use a cell phone when driving. Froetscher notes that cellular phone use while driving is more dangerous than talking to a passenger who is in the same vehicle. While talking to a real person makes the driver aware that lives are at stake if he or she doesn’t drive safely, talking on the cell phone places the motorist’s attention not on the road and in the present moment but elsewhere.

In addition to pushing for a change in current driving laws, the NSC is advocating more education about the dangers that come from driving with a cell phone, as well as better training.

National Safety Council Calls for Nationwide Ban on Cell Phone Use While Driving, NSC.org, January 12, 2009
Safety council urges ban on cell phone use while driving, CNN.com, January 12, 2009

Related Web Resources:

Maryland Cell Phone Law, DMV.org
Washington D.C. Hands-Free Law, Driving Laws.org
Cell Phone Driving Laws, Governors Highway Safety Association

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Gregory Schoenburn and Kimberly Pifer, the widower and daughter of Martha Schoenburn, one of two pedestrians killed in a bus accident on Valentine’s Day in 2007, have settled their wrongful death lawsuit against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for $2.3 million.

Martha, an executive assistant, died after she and colleague Sally Dean McGhee were run over by a bus while they crossed Pennsylvania Avenue NW at the 7th intersection on February 14, 2007. The bus driver, Victor Kolako, pleaded guilty to two counts of negligent homicide and is currently behind bars.

Martha’s family had initially sued the WMATA for $50 million. The wrongful death lawsuit filed by McGhee’s family for $20 million is scheduled for trial in October.

Several pedestrian accidents have occurred at the intersection where the two women were struck, and the city has now added a left-turn only lane.

Following the two fatalities, WMATA has agreed to train its 2,400 Metrobus drivers annually. It also set up a “street smart” program to make sure that its employees are knowledgeable about pedestrians on the road.

Public buses are common carriers that owe passengers and pedestrians a greater duty of care to drive safely. Failure to fulfill this care is considered negligence, and if someone is injured or killed because of driver carelessness or recklessness, you are entitled to financial recovery. Our Maryland and Washington DC bus accident lawyers can help you explore all your legal options.

We know how to investigate bus crash cases and determine not just driver negligence, but we can find out if there is more that a transportation agency or the city could have done to prevent the accident from happening. We know how to bring an injury claim against all liable parties and deal with the unique issues that can arise with bus accident claims and lawsuits.

WMATA Settles Wrongful Death Suit, Legaltimes, June 13, 2008

Related Web Resources:

Washington Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Approaches to Enhancing Pedestrian Safety and Access, FHWA Safety

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Two people are suing Emilio Inc, the company of Tejano star Emilio Navaira for injuries they sustained during a tour bus crash in Texas in March. Navaira, who was driving the bus, lost control of the vehicle that slammed into traffic barrels. The singer suffered a life threatening traumatic brain injury that put him in a coma. He is slowly recovering.

Grupo Rio band drummer Daniel Sandoval, who suffered head and back injuries from the bus accident, and Pedro Perez, who is the grandfather of one of the band members, are the plaintiffs of the personal injury lawsuit. They are seeking unspecified damages.

The 45-year-old Tejano star reportedly had a blood-alcohol content of 0.19—over twice the legal limit—at the time of the crash. Police also say he was not properly trained to drive the tour bus. He was also reportedly tired when driving that night after performing at a Houston Club.

Navaira, has two previous arrests for DWI. Since he signed a form saying he does not own a car, he did not have to install an alcohol-detection device in his motor vehicle.

Bus drivers must have the experience and training to properly operate these large motor vehicles. Most buses are not equipped with seat belts and bus drivers are responsible for safely transporting a large number of passengers in their vehicles.

Passengers in cars and on motorcycles, as well as pedestrians and bicyclists, are often at a disadvantage when involved in a collision with a bus because, like trucks, buses are a lot larger and weigh a lot more and the impact of being struck by one of these vehicles is often catastrophic.

Contact our Washington DC bus accident attorneys or our Maryland bus crash lawyers if you or someone you love was seriously injured in a bus collision caused by another negligent party.

2 sue Tejano star Emilio over Houston crash, Houston.com, June 3, 2008
Musicians Sue Emilio’s Company For Personal Injury, Click2Houston.com, June 3, 2008
Doctors: If He Survives, Grammy-Winning Tejano Singer Emilio Navaira Faces Long Recovery, FoxNews.com, March 25, 2008

Related Web Resource:

Center for National Truck and Bus Statistics , Umich.edu

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In Maryland, the driver of a school bus and three to five middle school student passengers were injured this morning after the bus they were riding in flipped over in Riverdale in Prince George’s County.

There were 45 passengers on the bus that was headed for William Wirt Middle School. All of the students that were in the bus at the time of the accident were transported to local hospitals for medical evaluation.

The bus driver will be charged with failure to yield right of way. It is believed that the driver tried to turn left too quickly.

School buses in Maryland are not required to provide seatbelts to passengers. Different types of injuries can occur during a bus rollover accident:

A 90-degree rollover: A bus passenger can end up slamming against a bus wall, a seatmate, a window, or their backpack or bag.

A 180-degree roller: Students can fall headfirst into the ceiling or be struck by falling objects that were not securely stored. Students may slip and fall into each other and sustain further injuries. Students may have to crawl over unconscious or seriously injured students to exit through windows.

In Maryland and Washington D.C., our personal injury law firm represents injured school bus passengers and their families in bus accident claims and lawsuits against the negligent parties. We also handle all kinds of injury cases involving injured minors.

An article, called The Severity of Bus Rollover Accidents found on the NHTSA web site, categorizes rollovers into the following groups:

• Turn on side
• Turn into a ditch
• Rollover from the road
• Serious rollover- involves more than two rotations
• Combined rollover- may involve a fire, a severe frontal collision, or the bus falling into a body of water
Overturned School Bus Sends Students, Driver to Hospitals, Washington Post, February 27, 2008

The Severity of Bus Rollover Accidents, NHTSA (PDF)

Related Web Resources:

School Bus Accident Reconstruction

Secretary Peters Catches Bus to School, Proposes New Safety Rules for School Buses, NHTSA.gov, November 19, 2007

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Victor Z. Kolako, the former metrobus driver who killed two female pedestrians on Valentine’s Day in a deadly motor vehicle accident, pled guilty to two counts of negligent homicide last Friday. As part of his plea agreement, prosecutors will pursue a prison sentence of no more than three years for Kolako.

Kolako, a Metro employee until he was fired after the fatal pedestrian accident, had been driving his Metrobus on Seventh Street NW on Valentine’s Day when he turned left onto Pennsylvania Avenue. D.C. police say that Kolako did not yield to oncoming traffic on Seventh Avenue and did not see the two pedestrians that were crossing the street on a “walk” signal in a crosswalk.

The pedestrians, Sally Dean McGhee, 54, and Martha Stringer Schoenberg, 59, were co-workers at the Federal Trade Commission. They were also friends and lived in the same neighborhood in Alexandria. The two women were leaving work and were about to take the metro home.

Police say that the two victims were dragged beneath the bus. Schoenberg’s husband has filed a 50 million wrongful death lawsuit against Metro.

Since 2005, there have been eight traffic accidents involving pedestrians and Metrobuses at the intersection of Pennsylvania and Seventh. It is considered one of the most dangerous intersections in D.C.

According to Metro, during the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2007, 32 pedestrians were hit by Metrobuses. 5 people were killed in these traffic accidents. The most recent pedestrian-Metrobus collision took place on February 14 and involved a 21-year-old nursing student.

Metro says that Metrobus drivers are required to take part in a safety training program of 1-2 days each year.

The number of Metrobus accidents involving pedestrians is a growing concern. Last February, Metrobus General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. announced new measures to improve Metrobus safety and public confidence.

Catoe vowed to monitor Metrobus drivers and their driving records. He also said he wanted to increase the amount of street supervisors that manage driver conduct.

Just one day after Catoe’s announcement, however, Metrobus drivers were seen driving through red lights, talking on cell phones, blocking intersections, and going over the speed limit.

443,000 passengers ride on D.C.’s Metrobus system each day.

Metrobus Driver Pleads Guilty, Washington Post, September 8, 2007
Metro to Require Safety Training for Bus Drivers, Wtopnews.com, February 15, 2007
Metro Chief Vows Better Bus Safety, Washington Post, February 25, 2007

Related Web Resources:

Husband Sues in Fatal Accident, Washington Post, March 20, 2007

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

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Police in Maryland are reminding drivers to “exercise caution, especially when children are involved… while driving anywhere near a school bus.” The warning comes in the wake of the new school year and efforts by state and local law enforcement departments to make this school year a safe one with zero injury accidents and wrongful deaths.

Police will be watching for drivers that are not paying attention when driving close to school bus stops. In Annapolis, drivers stopping in school traffic safety zones during the next five days will get a warning. Afterwards, they will receive citations.

Annapolis will also set up radar-speed display boards in school traffic zones. Police officers will stop any driver caught speeding. Stopping at pedestrian crosswalks will also be enforced, as will the use of seatbelts and child car seats. County officers will patrol school zones in cars during times when school buses are in operation.

Maryland’s Penalties for the Following Violations by Motor Vehicle Drivers:

• Failing to stop for a school vehicle: 3 points to the driver’s license and a $570 fine

• Causing an accident because of failure to stop for a school vehicle: a $610 penalty and three points to the driver’s license.

• Failing to stop for a pedestrian at a crosswalk: $80 fine
• Failing to exercise caution when children are around: $70 fine

Statistics show that from 1991-2001, about 26 children died in school bus accidents. 19 of the 26 fatalities were children that had gotten off or were getting on a bus. Half of the student pedestrians were between the ages of 5 and 7.

There were 1,479 school bus accidents that occurred over this same period. 68% of these accidents involved drivers of other motor vehicles.

Losing a child in a school bus-related accident can be very devastating for the family. It can also be very traumatic for a child to sustain serious injuries in a school bus accident, and the psychological and emotional ramification can be long term.

If your child has been seriously injured or killed in a school bus accident because the bus driver or another driver was negligent, you might have grounds to file a personal injury or a wrongful death claim or lawsuit.

Bus safety high on police radar, Hometownannapolis.com, August 20, 2007
School Bus Accident, Online Lawyer Source

Related Web Resources:

Traffic Safety, NHTSA
Back to School Safety, NSC.org

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