Bus Safety Tips For Parents And Children

Getting on a bus means going on an adventure. Sure, buses take students to school and adults to work, but they can also take people on fun adventures like field trips to The Detroit Zoo or to the Tigers game! However, many people are wary of bus transportation at the moment because, within the last week, several horrific bus accidents have been reported in the news.

Detroit Bus Crash Lawyer

One devastating bus accident revolved around a Canadian hockey team on their way to a playoff game. The travel bus containing 29 passengers collided with a tractor-trailer, killing 15 of the passengers aboard, CNN reported.

A second crash within the same week as the Canadian hockey team bus crash, revolved around a charter bus accident that took place in New York. The charter bus was taller than the overpass it was attempting to driver under, which lead to  the whole roof of the bus being sliced off. Dozens of students have been injured, some severely, in the New York charter bus accident, as reported by USA Today.  

The New York Times  reported another school bus crash on Monday, April 9, 2018 which involved 23 school children from ages 4-12, and 4 adults. This third bus accident took place in India and there is no known exact cause for the bus crash, as investigators have just begun their research into the crash.

These horrific bus crashes prove that bus accidents can happen anywhere, at any time, and for any reason. Since 2 of the 3 bus crashes were school bus accidents, The Michigan Law Firm, PC blog wants to focus on the importance of school bus safety. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation provides the following school bus safety tips for parents and students to keep their school commutes safe:

SCHOOL BUS SAFETY TIPS

Detroit Bus Accident Lawyer
  • Get to the school bus stop five minutes early, so you won't have to run across the road to catch the bus.

  • When waiting for the bus, stay away from traffic. Line up at least five giant steps away from the curb or the roadway to wait for the bus.

  • Never run after the school bus if it has already left the bus stop.

  • Never push when getting on or off of the school bus.

  • Always walk at least 10 feet in front of the bus when crossing so that the school bus driver can see you.

  • Be aware - Cross with Care! Wait until the school bus has stopped all traffic before stepping out onto the road.

  • When the school bus is moving, always stay in your seat. Never put your head, arms or hands out of the window.

  • Talk quietly; do not distract your school bus driver.

  • If your school bus crosses railroad tracks, be calm and quiet so that your driver can listen for a train. Always obey your school bus driver's instructions, so that he or she can make safe decisions.

  • Never play with the emergency exits. Backpacks, band instruments, or sports equipment may not block the aisle or emergency exits. If there is an emergency, listen to the driver and follow instructions.

  • When getting off of the school bus, make sure that all drawstrings and other loose objects are secure so that they don't get caught on the handrail or the door.

  • Never cross the street behind the school bus.

  • If you leave something on the bus or drop something outside of the bus, never go back for it. The driver may not see you and begin moving the bus.

  • Never speak to strangers at the bus stop and never get into the car with a stranger.

Following these school bus safety tips may help students get to and from school safely, but as we learned this week, not all bus accidents can be fully prevented. It’s always important to take safety precautions when operating or riding in any type of motor vehicle. The Michigan Law Firm, PC sends our deepest condolences to all those involved in the above-mentioned bus crashes, and well wishes to any bus accident survivors.


If you or anyone you know have been in a bus crash, or any type of motor vehicle accident, please contact The Michigan Law Firm, PC at 844.4MI.FIRM, for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.

Mother and Son Die After Colliding with School Bus

A mother and son from mid-Michigan died earlier this month after colliding with a school bus. According to the Detroit Free Press, Joshua Schafer was driving with his mother Kimberly when he rear-ended a school bus, killing both himself and his mother, who was riding in the passenger seat. Joshua was 19 years old, and Kimberly was 56.

The accident occurred in Isabella Township, Michigan, near Mount Pleasant. On Friday, September 8th, at around 7:45 AM, the bus was traveling eastbound on Weidman Road, just west of Whiteville Road. Mlive reported that the bus had stopped to pick up the first student on its route when it was hit. The car went underneath the bus. The bus driver was the only person on board at the time, and was not injured. Police said that no photos or videos of the crash were available.

school bus accident

Joshua was a sophomore at Central Michigan University, according to the university newspaper. It was his first week on campus, as he had transferred from Mid-Michigan Community College.

Authorities say that early morning sun may have been a contributing factor to the accident, as the car was facing and traveling eastbound, into the bright morning sun. While research on sunglare related accidents is sparse and very few statistics are available, we do know that school bus related accidents are unfortunately common. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 1,353 people died in automobile accidents involving school buses between 2003 and 2014. 71% of those who died were not traveling on the school bus. For more information on school bus car accidents, as well as safety tips for drivers when sharing the road with school buses, check out this recent post from The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC.


When sharing the road with school buses, drivers need to slow down, and stop when appropriate. Even so, car collisions involving school buses will still occur, resulting in injury or death. If you or a loved one have been involved in an automobile accident involving a school bus, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. 

School Bus Traffic Safety Laws for Drivers

As students across Michigan return to classes for the new school year, drivers are sure to notice an increased number of school buses on the road. School buses are an excellent mode of transportation for students. In fact, riding a bus is safer than walking or driving a family vehicle. More so, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), students are 70x more likely to get to school safely when taking a bus as opposed to traveling in a car. The reason for this level of safety may be due to how school buses are designed. First, the bright yellow color of a school bus makes it highly visible. Then, the equipped flashing lights, cross-view mirrors, and stop-sign arms, not to mention protective seating inside the bus, also help to keep students safe.

Michigan School Bus Accident Lawyer

In addition to these design elements, there are traffic laws put in place that also keep school buses safe on the road. However, the traffic laws that drivers must follow when driving near a school bus can be a source of confusion, and not following these laws properly may lead to a school bus crash on the road or a pedestrian car crash at a student crossing. According to the NHSTA, more school-age pedestrians are killed during the hour before or after school than any other time of day, largely due to drivers not stopping when they are near school buses. Data published by the NHSTA shows that 1,353 people were killed in accidents involving school buses between 2003 and 2014. Of those who died, 71% were not on the school bus but were were traveling in other vehicles, such as sedans and SUVs.

School bus traffic laws can be confusing, but the Michigan State Police has offers the following recommendations to help drivers avoid becoming involved in school bus car crashes.

School Bus Safety Tips for Drivers

  1. Prepare to stop when a slowing bus has its overhead yellow lights flashing.

  2. Stop at least 20 feet away for buses when red lights are flashing, unless driving in the opposite direction on a divided highway.

  3. Slow down in or near school and residential areas.

  4. Look for clues-such as safety patrols, crossing guards, bicycles, and playgrounds-that indicate children might be in the area.

  5. Watch for children between parked cars and other objects.

  6. School buses are like traffic signals:
    • When overhead lights are flashing yellow: Prepare to stop.
    • When overhead lights are flashing red: Stop.
    • When hazard warning lights are flashing: Proceed with caution.

School Bus Safety Tips for Students

  1. Always stay in sight of the bus driver.
  2. Don't hurry off the bus; check traffic first.
  3. Don't go back to the bus after exiting.

As the NHSTA notes, the greatest risk does not come from riding the bus, but from approaching or leaving one. While following these tips cannot guarantee bus accidents won't happen, they may help keep both students and drivers safe by reducing the number of injuries and deaths from school bus accidents. 


Stopping for school buses is the law, but this law is not always followed. Not stopping for school buses may result in injury or death for those who are on the school bus, those who are traveling in other vehicles, and even pedestrians. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a school bus crash or any type of bus accident, call The Michigan Law Firm PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation. Our firm is experienced in handling personal injury and motor vehicle accident cases.
 

Should School Buses Have Seat belts?

Michigan School Bus Crash Lawyer

Many people may remember the 2016 Chattanooga, Tennessee school bus crash that killed 5 students and injured more than 20 children. While this school bus accident shocked and stunned most of the country, in reality, school bus crashes are more common than most people realize. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that there have been an average of 135 fatalities per year from school-transportation-related crashes since 2003. To make matter worse, there is currently no federal regulation that requires children to wear seat belts on school buses. One of the arguments against school buses having seat belts is actually that the large vehicles are statistically shown to be safer than passenger vehicles. The NHTSA describes how large school buses are heavier and distribute crash forces differently than passenger vehicles and light trucks do. Strong, closely-spaced seats with energy-absorbing seat backs in school buses are supposed to "compartmentalize" children enough that they are protected without buckling up. 

Another reason many people argue against buses having seat belts is due to the incremental amount it would cost to install them. CNN estimates that seat belt installations inside of a large school bus could range anywhere between $7,346 to $10,296. "Installing seat belts on buses is not free, and requiring their installation might mean reducing funding on other critical safety aspects, such as crossing guards for those children who do walk to school," said Richard Williams, former director of the regulatory studies program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

On the other hand, and possibly more importantly, the NHTSA argues that by adding three-point seat belts to school buses, the average number of lives lost annually in school bus crashes could be cut in half. Deborah Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council also makes a good point about installing seat belts on school buses. 

"That's the best protection that we can give our kids. It's what they're used to in cars," said Hersman. "We know that there are very few fatalities involving children on school buses every year-they are a safe form of transportation-but anything we can do to make them safer is really our responsibility." 

Michigan School Bus Accident Lawyer

Currently, there are only six states that have legislation in place requiring buses to have seat belts - California, Texas, Florida, New York, Louisiana, and New Jersey. Despite the lack of regulation around the country, it is important for motor vehicle operators, and especially school bus drivers, to be screened properly and to focus on safe driving. A car, truck, or bus crash may happen at any time, and wearing a seat belt is just one of many ways for drivers to stay safe while on the road.

Incidentally, a similar bus crash to the one in Chattanooga also happened in Anaheim, California. The Anaheim bus slammed into a light pole and some trees, splitting open the left side of the vehicle while students from a middle school were on board. Both of the buses involved in the Chattanooga and Anaheim accidents were driven by 24-year-olds, in clear and dry conditions, and yet, both buses happened to flip onto their sides. The only difference is that the bus in Anaheim was equipped with seat belts and no one was killed.

So, what do readers of The Michigan Law Firm, Blog think? Given the above information, do you think school buses should have seat belts?


Although the government requires drivers and passengers to wear seat belts in passenger vehicles for their safety on the road, they don't enforce seat belt safety in all modes of transportation. Although the NHTSA lists school buses as one of the safest modes of transportation for school-age children, due to their safe design with reinforced sides, bright coloring, stop signs, and standard seat size and height, it couldn't possibly hurt to wear a seat belt on a school bus anyway, could it? Have you, your child, or someone else's child been involved in a school bus accident or any kind of bus accident? If so, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. 

Bus Driver Asked Children, "Are Y'all Ready To Die," Before Crashing

Johnthony Walker, 24, was charged with vehicular homicide after allegedly killing 5 children from Woodmore Elementary School, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on November 21, 2016. Walker was a school bus driver transporting 35 children ranging from ages 5 to 10. According to CBS News, more than 20 children were injured and had to be rushed to the hospital after it took nearly two hours for emergency crews to clear them from the accident. Kirk Kelly, the interim school superintendent, confirmed that one of the children killed in the accident was a kindergartner, another was a first grader, and three of them were in the fourth grade. Kelly refused to release the names of the students, but did divulge that 12 of the students have remained hospitalized with 6 of them in intensive care. 

Michigan School Bus Accident Lawyer

The accident was caused by Walker who was supposedly not paying attention and going well over the posted 30 miles per hour speed limit. Jasmine Mateen, whose 6-year-old daughter was killed in the crash, recounts, “My daughter said right before the bus flipped that he was speeding around the curve and asked them ‘Are y’all ready to die?’” According to another boy on the bus, the bus then hit a garbage bag and a mailbox before flipping over and finally wrapping around a tree.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sent out investigators to acquire the school bus’ black box. The black box contains data of the vehicles movements which the NTSB will analyze to confirm or deny witness accounts and the local authorities' findings. NTSB chairman Christopher A. Hart says they are focusing on gathering witness accounts and any other evidence pertaining to the accident, including if the school bus had any cameras.

Ms. Mateen had a total of three children aboard the bus, including her daughter who died in the accident. One of the children, who was seated next to the sister who passed away, claims to have seen her sister “smushed” between the seats. Mateen, along with a few other parents whose children rode on Walker’s bus, claim to have complained about Walker’s incessant habit of speeding, before the accident but were unsuccessful in causing action to be taken. 

Michigan Bus Accident Attorney

On whether or not the school district had received the complaints the parents made involving Walker, Amy Kutcher, the Hamilton County School District Spokeswoman, declined to say. Kutcher would only admit to Walker being an employee who was hired by an outside contractor, Durham School Services. “Legally there is no way that we could discipline someone who is not our employee,” Kutcher continued to say, “We’ve got 192 Durham bus drivers. Obviously, this is a bad one.”  
  
The Durham School Services CEO,  David A Duke, did release a statement via twitter saying that the company is “devastated” by the accident and are working with authorities as well as school officials to investigate the crash. The NY Post researched that Durham School Services, "has had 346 crashes over two years, including three resulting in deaths and 142 with injuries, according to federal figures. During that period, it had 53 incidents involving unsafe driving violations."

Michigan Car Crash Lawyer

Walker actually had a sullied driving record. Not only was he found at fault in an accident in which his bus crossed the yellow line on a curve and hit another vehicle, on September 20th, but his license was also suspended for a month in 2014 for failing to show proof of insurance. Aside from a spotty driving record however, it did not appear that Walker had a criminal record in Tennessee. In fact, Walker's mother, Gwenevere Cook assured WDEF, “He don’t hang on the street, he don’t smoke, he don’t do drugs, he don’t drink. He’s never been in trouble, never, ever been in trouble.” Instead Walker was a father to a three-year old and a well-liked bus driver. 

Walker appeared before a judge on November 29, 2016 facing five counts of vehicular homicide and charges of reckless endangerment and reckless driving. According to CNN, a police spokeswoman said that a sixth vehicular homicide charge would likely be added.


School bus accidents are even more saddening than regular bus accidents as they involve children. As heartbreaking as the Chattanooga bus crash was, citizens of Michigan should remember that any type of motor vehicle accident is always possible. Injuries sustained in automobile collisions can be minor or may even lead to death. If you or someone you know has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, including a public bus or school bus crash, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our firm is highly experienced in handling all types of automobile accidents and will fight to grant you any benefits you may be entitled to under Michigan Law. Let us do the hard work while you and your family focus on healing. Contact us, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.

How To Share The Road With A School Bus

Detroit School Bus Accident Attorney

It’s an average Tuesday morning, and you're in a hurry to get to work on time. Unfortunately, you are now driving behind a school bus which is stopping every 50 yards along its path to pick up students on their way to school. Many drivers flirt with the temptation of driving around and passing the bus, even as the lights begin to flash and the STOP sign comes out. Not only is passing a school bus while it’s stopped and picking up students illegal, it’s extremely dangerous. DriveSafely.net estimates that 50,000 motorists illegally pass a school bus every single day. While a good portion of these drivers make the decision to pass the bus because of a lack of patience, there are many drivers that pass a bus because they are not familiar with the local laws pertaining to school bus safety. 

The Michigan State Police (MSP) have outlined how driver’s should react when driving near a school bus, as well as the possible consequences for breaking the law. 

School Bus Safety Tips for Drivers: 

  • Prepare to stop when a slowing bus has its overhead yellow lights flashing
  • Stop at least 20 feet away for buses when red lights are flashing, unless driving in the opposite direction on a divided highway
  • Slow down in or near school and residential areas
  • Look for clues such as safety patrols, crossing guards, bicycles, and playgrounds which indicate children might be in the area
  • Watch for children between parked cars and other objects
Michigan Bus Crash Lawyer

The MSP suggests that drivers treat school buses as regular traffic signals. When the overhead lights are flashing yellow, drivers should prepare to stop. If the bus lights are flashing red, stop immediately and do not attempt to pass the bus. When hazard lights are flashing, it is okay to proceed around the bus with extreme caution. The MSP also encourages parents to have a talk with their children about what they can do to stay safe when boarding and exiting the school bus. Children should stay in sight of the bus driver at all times, and always walk around the front of the bus, not the rear. Children are also advised to not hurry off the bus, and make sure that there is no oncoming traffic before crossing the street.

Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill into law in 2012 which made it illegal to pass a school bus while it is unloading students under any circumstances. Violators of the law could pay a fine between $100 and $500, as well as serve a required 100 hours of community service. 


No matter how frustrating it may be to get stuck behind a school bus, there is no excuse for breaking the law and endangering school children. If you find yourself getting stuck behind a bus on a daily basis, it may be best to find a different route to work. If you or somebody you know has a child injured due to a car attempting to pass a school bus, please call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our firm will work hard to get you any financial support for medical services and any other expenses you may experience, that you may be entitled to under Michigan law. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.