A child was hit while trying to board a school bus in Tennessee on Nov. 27 in the latest failure of a driver to stop for a bus’s flashing lights and stop arm.
The crash happened at 6:35 a.m. as a 10-year-old child tried to cross Tennessee Highway 81 South in Washington County when he or she was hit by a car that was traveling slightly below the speed limit in the opposite direction the bus was facing.
The driver failed to stop despite the bus having its flashing lights on and stop arm lowered, which is illegal.
Police officers cited the driver for failure to yield causing injury and failure to stop for a school bus, reported WCYB.
The child was rushed to a nearby hospital with injuries that are not life-threatening.
A sheriff’s deputy told WJHL the child was alert and talking as he was being transported to Niswonger Children’s Hospital in Johnson City in an ambulance.
Rash of Accidents
Drivers slamming into students boarding buses have killed multiple children in recent weeks and left a number of others injured.
In late October and early November, 14 people, mostly students, were hit at school bus stops in just three days, leaving five people dead. On one road in Florida in mid-November, deputies wrote 30 tickets in a short period of time as drivers brazenly ignored the warning lights and stop arm on school buses.
Alyssa Shepherd, who hit four children, three of whom died, in Indiana on Oct. 30 was charged with reckless homicide. She appeared in court on Nov. 15 and pleaded not guilty. A pretrial hearing was set for Feb. 5.
The Indiana accident highlighted a daily problem in rural areas, officials told the Tribune-Star. “This was right here at our back door … among Indiana people and in areas where you wouldn’t think it would happen,” said David Henry, South Vermillion School Corp. transportation director. “That did not happen in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, or Evansville. It happened in a smaller, rural area.”
He said that his office has 15 written reports of stop arm violations in just nine weeks. He said many drivers are aware of the law requiring drivers to stop but drive past the bus anyway, while others are distracted by texting or something else.
“I can’t fathom in my mind being in such a hurry I have to pass a school bus stop arm … because going to work is more important than the safety of a kid,” he said.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (pdf), there were 1,172 school-transportation-related fatal motor vehicle crashes between 2006 and 2015. During that time, an average of 131 fatalities per year were attributed to those crashes.
Officers investigating the crashes urged drivers to be more careful, especially around rush hour.
“Sadly it takes a reminder like this that our school buses do share the highways with us, do share the roads, in morning, and evening traffic,” Mississippi Highway Patrol Master Sgt. Ray Hall told WCBI.
He said that drivers should be cautious anytime they see a school bus, even if it’s not loading or unloading students. “It may have already unloaded a child that’s a half mile down the road, you pass that school bus and that child, for some unknown reason, is in the middle of the road, so it’s not just loading and unloading, when you see a school bus, you need to be alert,” he said.