Recent Georgia School Bus and Commercial Vehicle Crashes

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Unfortunately, in recent months there have been a number of school bus crashes in Georgia. As an injury lawyer handling commercial vehicle and tractor-trailer cases statewide, I have seen a too many terrible collisions over the years; however, there is something about a collision involving school children that makes you stand up and take notice.

When parents send their kids off to school, they assume that the bus driver has had sufficient training and experience to safely transport the kids. What is startling, however, is that adequate training and experience may not be the norm. In recent weeks, we learned that the driver of one school bus, which was involved in a fatal accident, was driving without a school bus endorsement on his license. This Carroll County collision, which occurred October 4, 2010, killed one student and injured many more.

The Carroll County collision was a “rollover” type crash. There is an outstanding animation of roll-over crashes involving commercial vehicles, created by the National Transportation Safety Administration.

Whatever your leaning–liberal, conservative / Democrat, Republican….all should agree that students deserve to be transported to and from school in the safest manner possible. I don’t know how or why a driver was allowed to operate a school bus full of children without the proper licensing and training…that is just horrendous. I do know that the Carroll County collision should cause the “powers that be” in each school district across the state to re-examine their school bus safety, training, and credentialing measures.

I would also add that each school district should take a good, long look at whether or not the school buses carry adequate insurance. Many people do not understand that public school districts are essentially immune from civil, tort lawsuits. And, when their bus drivers cause injury to others, the injured Georgia citizens can only recover up to the amount of the insurance policy carried by the school district. Some schools have $100,000 in coverage, while some have over $1,000,000–there seems to be no rhyme or reason to why some school districts have ten times more insurance than others. It seems that to be fair to Georgia citizens driving on local roads and highways, Georgia school districts need to carry at least $1,000,000 in insurance for the wrongful acts of their bus drivers.

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