Car accident: School children vulnerable at bus stops

Schools are open, and children in Illinois are back in their classrooms. This is something drivers must consider, especially those traveling on the same routes as school buses. The most dangerous part of a school bus ride is the bus stop when there is a high risk of a child suffering a car accident injury. Children are most vulnerable in the moments after disembarking from a bus.

Children crossing streets when getting on or off school buses can be as young as 5 to 7 years old and, obviously, do not think like adults. For this reason, Illinois motorists are not allowed to pass school buses that stop to collect or off-load children. Most of the children involved in school bus-related accidents are not on the school bus but in the area around the bus — ominously called the death zone. The primary cause is drivers illegally passing stopped buses.

It does not take much to distract a child who may move across the road without checking for cars, and smaller children cannot judge the speed of approaching vehicles, nor the distance. Their views are often blocked by the bus. When the red lights are flashing, and the stop-sign arm is extended, drivers must stop at least 20 feet from the bus to allow children to safely cross the road. On roads with one lane of traffic in each direction, the vehicles in both lanes must stop, and when there are multiple lanes, the traffic heading in the same direction as the bus must stop.

Losing a young child in a car accident when he or she is in the care of others is devastating for any Illinois parent. Those who are having to cope with the injury or death of a child due to a motor vehicle crash may pursue claims for financial relief, seeking to ease the burden of medical costs and/or end-of-life expenses. Although a monetary judgment in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit cannot replace the loss of a child, holding a negligent driver accountable may provide some sense of solace and perhaps help prevent similar tragedies in the future.

Source: Deerfield, IL Patch, “‘Death Zone’: What You Should Know About Passing a Stopped School Bus in Illinois“, Joe Vince, Aug. 31, 2016