Thousands of children ride school buses on a daily basis, and the rules of the road are written to provide them extra safety. Not abiding by these rules can result in devastating consequences.
That’s exactly what happened last November in a widely publicized accident that gripped the nation.
A 24-year-old Indiana driver is accused of ignoring a school bus stop arm and hitting four children. One child was sent to the hospital and is still recovering. The other three weren’t as lucky – Xavier and Mason Ingle, 6-year-old twins, and their sister Alivia Stahl, 9 – were tragically killed.
State Police said the school bus driver put down the stop arm to allow the children to safely board the bus, but a pickup truck hit them. The pickup driver told police she saw flashing lights when she drove around a corner, but realized too late that it was a school bus coming to a full stop.
The driver was arrested and charged her with three counts of reckless homicide and one count of passing a stopped school bus resulting in injury.
What Are Virginia’s School Bus Safety Laws?
Fairfax County is Virginia’s most populous county, with a lot of children take the bus to and from school. As such, it’s important drivers brush up on their knowledge of school bus safety laws. Disobeying the rules could result in hefty fines and a potentially serious school bus accident, amongst a laundry list of other things.
In Virginia, you cannot pass a school bush that has flashing red lights, even if the driver hasn’t extended the stop sign yet. This goes for drivers on both side of the road. The only exception to this rile is if there is a median between you and the bus.
School bus drivers flash their yellow warning lights as they are about to make a stop. When you see these lights, you should slow down and prepare to stop. The law says you have to stop at least 20 feet away from a stopped school bus with its stop arm out, and you have to wait until the driver retracts the arm and turns off the flashing red lights before you can proceed.
Some towns in Fairfax County have cameras installed on school buses that take pictures of drivers who pass school buses when they are stopped. When police review the footage from the camera, they can fine drivers $250 for breaking the law.
School Bus Safety Is of Critical Concern
Children are more in danger of being injured when they are boarding or getting off a school bus than they are when they are actually riding in the bus. This is why it’s essential for all drivers on the roadways to know the laws, and to follow them closely.
At Hilton & Somer, we have a team of experienced personal injury lawyers in Fairfax VA that can represent you in the unfortunate event that you or your children are hurt in a school bus accident. Contact us today at (703) 782-8349 to schedule an appointment.