It’s the last phone call a parent wants to receive: news that their child was in an accident. Although bus accidents are rare—especially when compared with car accidents and other types of collisions—school bus accidents do unfortunately sometimes happen. And when they occur, the school bus driver is supposed to follow certain protocols to protect the kids on board.
The following are school bus safety standards school bus drivers must abide by in the event of an accident.
School Bus Driver Safety Protocols After an Accident
School buses are more regulated than any other vehicles on the road in many ways. For one, their design is meant to prevent collisions and injuries better than passenger vehicles. Plus, stop-arm laws around illegally passing a school bus help protect kids from other drivers.
The other factor lies on the school bus driver him or herself. They must follow these safety protocols if their bus gets into an accident.
Secure the Vehicle
Right after the accident happens, the school bus driver should make sure the vehicle is safely secured and out of further harm’s way. That includes displaying appropriate warning signs and not further moving the vehicle until instructed to do so.
Check All Students and Ensure Safety
They should then account for all passengers on the bus and check for injuries. If they have the training, the driver should administer any immediate first aid needed while waiting for emergency medical services.
If it’s unsafe to remain on the bus, the driver should evacuate all students from the vehicle. For instance, if there is a threat of fire, everyone should be moved to a location away from the vehicle and at least 100 feet from the road. Otherwise, they should keep passengers on the bus.
Report the Accident Immediately
After securing the bus and all students, the driver should immediately radio the dispatcher of the appropriate department with the following details of the accident:
- Bus number
- Route number
- School the students attend
- Seriousness of the accident, including any and all injuries
If there are injuries, police and EMS will also be notified in case an ambulance needs to be sent to the scene. The school’s superintendent should also be notified about the accident. The school principal will also receive all relevant information about the accident in case their assistance is required.
Talk to Witnesses
If anyone who witnessed the accident is at the scene, the driver can talk to those people and get their names and addresses.
Do Not Give Statements
Besides contacting the school, getting information from witnesses, and talking to police, the bus driver shouldn’t give any statements to other bystanders, the media, or insurance investigators.
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What About the Protocol for Minor Accidents?
Some bus accidents, thankfully, do not result in serious injuries. If the bus is involved in a minor fender-bender, for example:
- The driver will be required to check all students and ask if anyone is in pain or has known injuries.
- The student does report pain or injuries, the driver should call 911 to request an ambulance.
- If there are no reported injuries and the bus is on track to the students’ school, the driver will continue their route and have the students checked out by a nurse when they get there.
If the accident happens when the bus is in route to take students home and there is no reported pain, the above protocol is followed with one exception. Instead of seeing the school nurse, parents are notified and advised to have their child see a doctor if they should any signs of pain later.
What Happens After Bus Driver Protocols Are Completed?
Once the school bus driver has reported the accident, the school will have their own roles to play.
After any bus accident, regardless of seriousness, the school’s principal or other staff will contact each student’s parents letting them know about the accident and the status of their child.
Depending on the situation, they may also:
- View health information for each student passenger from their enrollment cards.
- Go or send a school staff member to the accident scene to tell medics about any specific student health needs.
- Making sure students not taken to a hospital are check by medics before being released to their parents.
- Go to the hospital if there are any serious injuries or fatalities.
- Let staff know what has happened.
The school nurse will also be on standby at the school in case their emergency assistance is needed.
Other Safety Protocols Bus Drivers Must Follow
Besides protocol after an accident, a school bus driver must also follow certain rules to protect students and help prevent accidents from happening at all. Those include:
- Watching for students in the street, playing near the bus stops, or darting into the street to catch the bus.
- Following the bus laws of their state.
- Flashing yellow lights when preparing to load or unload students; flashing red lights and releasing stop arms when stopped for students loading or unloading.
- Taking and keeping up with required school bus driver safety training.
If a school bus driver does not follow the appropriate protocol when operating their bus and they get into an accident, the driver or the school that employs them could be to blame for the accident. That means in the State of Georgia they would be liable for all injuries and other accident costs.
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Was Your Child Involved in a School Bus Accident?
If your child was hurt in a school bus accident, you need to know their rights. You should not be held responsible for any costs related to your child’s injuries and recovery. It’s best to contact a bus accident lawyer as soon as possible. They can look at the facts of the accident and advise you on the best course of action for your family.
John Foy & Associates can help. We have 20+ years of experience helping bus accident victims recover the money they’re legally entitled to receive after their accident. We’re here to right for your family’s rights, and we never take the side of the school or insurance companies. For a FREE consultation to discuss your case today, call us 404-400-4000 or fill out the form on this page to get started.