Even when entrusting your children to what you think are the safe conditions at school, deadly accidents can happen.
On March 13, 2018, an Alabama bus crash resulted in the death of the driver and injuries of 19 passengers, including high school students and parents. The bus, transporting a group from a Texas high school on their way back from a trip to Florida, plunged down a ravine near the Alabama-Florida border. After nearly three hours, passengers were rescued, with four treated for serious conditions.
By March 19, all the passengers who were hospitalized were released and returned home. The cause of death of the driver has been ruled as blunt force trauma. Investigations as to any other elements that may have been a factor in the accident are also taking place, as the cause of the crash is still undetermined.
This frightening accident has many parents around the country wondering how they can protect their own children and prevent them from being in an accident like this. Also, if your child is in an accident on a school bus or while being transported for a school activity, what action can you take? Learn more here.
How Parents Can Keep Kids Safe During School Transportation
While ultimately, it’s impossible to be present every time your child is being transported somewhere for a school activity, there are several actions parents can take to increase their children’s safety. Use these tips.
- Get clear information from school officials about how transportation is handled. Whether your child is riding on a bus or in a teacher’s car, make sure you have all the details about the transportation. Express yourself if something concerns you. Enquire about seatbelts and ask that they be put on before the vehicle moves. Ask about the vehicle’s safety features and the last time they were examined.
- Talk with your child about vehicle safety. Children’s injuries in a transportation accident may be more severe depending on how they’re riding in the vehicle. Tell them to sit down on the seat, face forward, and never stand up, even if the bus is still. Kids should keep their heads and arms in the bus at all times. All items from aisles and exits should be removed. Kids should be quiet and respectful, and not distract the driver.
- Set up a communication plan. Empower your child to talk with the driver and/or to call you if they are uncomfortable on the ride. Bullying and horsing around should never take place on a moving vehicle. If the child is uneasy, set up an action plan beforehand that encourages them to communicate with the driver or contact a parent.
Parents can also have their kids share their location with them through their smartphone. This enables parents to keep track of routes and accidents and get in touch with children if something is wrong.
What Should You Do If Your Child Is in a School Transportation Accident?
Comfortingly, school transportation accidents are rare, and fatalities due to school transportation are even rarer. However, sometimes bus, van or other school transportation accidents do occur and leave children with severe injuries. Sometimes, these accidents are due to negligence.
For parents or caretakers who have a child who has been in a serious accident in a school vehicle, it’s important to determine if negligence was the cause of the accident, since this will help when the victim is attempting to gain compensation and justice for the accident. The vehicle manufacturer, driver or even school may be to blame. Here’s how to stay protected.
- Prepare children for accidents. It’s scary to contemplate, but accidents may happen at any time. Besides teaching children how to stay safe in a moving school vehicle, tell them what to do in case of an accident.
- Stay calm and do not admit blame for anything.
- Observe what’s going on around them. What state is the driver in? Was there something odd happening with the vehicle before the accident? Did the driver say something suspicious before the accident?
- Get medical attention. You might even tell children to snap a photo of the accident scene, if they’re able to.
- Visit the scene of the accident. As soon as you can after the accident, return to the scene to observe and record details that may be relevant. Was there a pothole or obstacle in the street? Did a bottle of alcohol fly out of the vehicle? Was a stop sign missing?
- Contact a lawyer. A lawyer will help to protect you and your family in case negligence is to blame. School districts have their own legal teams. Get a free consultation with a lawyer who can advise you on how to communicate with a school, bus company or other party involved with the accident.
- Keep detailed records. Maintain complete records of all doctors’ visits related to injuries, as well as how injuries and pain is progressing through a journal or video testimony from the child. These are important to have should you file a claim.
A lawyer can help you and your family navigate the process that helps you obtain justice and peace of mind. If another party puts your child in danger, they could potential harm other children. School accidents are scary, but taking the proper steps to deal with them can protect your child and others.