When it comes to the safety of students on their way to and from school, Illinois takes a strong stance. The state has several laws in place that are designed to ensure the safe operation of school buses and protect children who ride them. Here is information about Illinois school bus safety laws as well as information about what to do if your children are injured at the hands of a negligent driver.
In this Article
School Bus Safety Laws
School bus drivers, who are trusted with the safety of your kids, must follow Illinois school bus laws in order to ensure the safety of the children he or she is driving. The first safety law a school bus driver must follow, codified as 625 ILCS 5/11-1415, is that he or she shall only stop on the right side of the highway to load and discharge passengers.
When stopping, the school bus driver must turn on the red flashing hazard lights and extend the arm on the left side of the vehicle that displays a stop sign. This is how the school bus driver signals to the other drivers that they must stop their vehicles because children will be loading or unloading from the school bus.
If the highway has four lanes of traffic or more, or if the highway allows for traffic to travel both ways, then the school bus may only discharge children whose residences are on the right side of the street in the same direction the bus is traveling or if the stop is at a crosswalk. The routes of the school buses are planned by the district in a way to prevent children from crossing a four lane highway.
If a school bus is set to travel across any railroad crossings, Illinois law requires that the bus driver pull over to the right and come to a complete stop between fifteen and fifty feet of the railroad. The bus driver is then required to display the flashing hazard lights, open their window, and look and listen for any incoming train. Once the school bus driver has ensured that the crossing will be safe, they will proceed across the tracks.
This practice is taken so seriously that the law requires school bus drivers to stop before railroad crossings even if the bus is empty. This allows the practice to be ingrained in the driver’s driving habits. A driver that is following the school bus CANNOT pass the school bus while they are conducting this safety check.
When a school bus stops to let children on or off the bus, the law also places restrictions on other drivers on the roadway. First, a driver in Illinois must follow any reduced speed limits during school hours and when children are present.
If a school bus stops on a two-lane roadway, it should extend the stop sign arm and have red flashing lights. A school bus with red flashing lights and a stop sign signals to other drivers exactly that: STOP. This is not a suggestion and the law requires that all vehicles in both lanes of travel to stop. Passing a school bus is prohibited.
Drivers should also be stopping at least 20 feet away from the stopped school bus and should not move again until the school bus resumes motion. This allows for your child to cross the road safely and quickly.
Injuries and School Buses
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), school buses are one of the safest vehicles on the road with less than 1% of all traffic fatalities involving children riding school buses. Children are more at risk of injury when stopped school buses are loading or unloading the passengers.
School buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road and have safety features including flashing red lights, protective seating, high crush standards, and protection from rolling over. While the law imposes requirements on the school bus driver and other drivers on the road and encourages compliance by threat of fines, it does not physically stop drivers who are not paying attention or try passing a school bus because they are in a rush, so accidents still happen during the school year.
What You Can Do If Your Child Is Injured in an Accident Involving a School Bus
If your child was injured in an incident that involved a school bus, you may be wondering what you can do to seek justice. If the bus driver failed to properly stop, use safety signals and hazard lights, or obey traffic signs, these may be grounds for you to receive compensation for the injuries your child sustained.
The specific facts of the incident will determine whether a lawsuit is appropriate or whether you can recover monetary damages. Additionally, under Illinois law, there is a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver. Call today to discuss the facts of your case with a personal injury lawyer.
School Bus Drivers and the Use of Technology
While technology, such as GPS systems and smartphones, has changed the way we drive, school bus drivers are not legally permitted to use their phones or other telecommunication devices while operating a school bus. According to ILCS Chapter 5 Section 12-813.1, school bus drivers must have access to a phone or two-way radio while in control of the bus. To use the phone to report an emergency or mechanical breakdown of the bus, the bus driver must park the bus first.
If a bus driver uses their cell phone while the bus is in operation, even during an emergency, they aren’t driving according to the law. At no point should a bus driver use their personal cell phone to make personal calls or to text. This puts the students at serious risk from a distracted driver and increases the chance that an accident will happen.
How Common are School Bus Accidents?
School bus accidents are more common than you’d expect. The NHTSA reports that from 2011-2020, there were an average of 133 deaths from school transportation-related automotive accidents. This includes people in other cars that the school bus struck, pedestrians, and bystanders. 70% of the deaths were occupants of other vehicles.
How to File a Lawsuit After a School Bus Accident
To seek compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and more after a school bus accident, it is important to find a team of personal injury lawyers who have experience working on cases involving school transportation accidents. There can be a lot of red tape surrounding school bus accidents, particularly if the bus involved is operated by the local school district. Having a knowledgeable local attorney can make this process go smoother.
Get Help Today
After calling 9-1-1 and seeking medical treatment for your child, contacting a bus accident lawyer should be your next step. When you call The Kryder Law Group, LLC Accident and Injury Lawyers, we will walk you through the process of determining whether or not you have a case and figuring out who is liable.
Who May Be Liable for Your Child’s Injuries on a School Bus?
When determining who may be liable for your child’s injuries, it is important to consider the following:
The bus driver: If the bus driver was negligent or failed to comply with the Illinois laws governing school buses and school bus safety, then they can be held responsible for any damages caused by their negligence.
The school district: In some cases, the school district can be held liable for accidents involving the school buses if they failed to properly train their drivers or maintain the school buses.
The manufacturer: If the bus was defective in any way, then the manufacturer may be held responsible for any accidents caused by the defect.
Another driver: If another driver causes an accident because of their negligent behavior, like passing a school bus while the school bus is stopped and has the stop arm extended with flashing red lights, they may be held liable.
No matter who is found to be liable, it is important to remember that you have the right to seek compensation for the injuries your child sustained. The specific facts of the incident will determine whether a lawsuit is appropriate or whether you can recover monetary damages.
You Have a Limited Time to Act
Additionally, under Illinois law, there is a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit against the negligent party. Call today to discuss the facts of your case. We have decades of experience representing victims of motor vehicles accidents and helping them get the justice they deserve.
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