Middle TN School Bus Drivers Still Working Despite Complaints
Several school districts throughout Middle Tennessee have received complaints about driver behavior in recent months, but a recent investigation revealed that many of those drivers are still getting behind the wheel to pick up and drop off children.
Per a report by WSMV.com, the investigation of the deadly Chattanooga bus crash last November that killed six students revealed that the driver had been the subject of complaints prior to the crash, including swerving and attempts to make children on his bus fall.
Reporters found that Wilson County’s school board has received nearly a dozen complaints about bus drivers since August, including speeding and erratic driving incidents. In Williamson County, a driver was filmed texting while behind the wheel.
In addition, school systems handle disciplinary issues involving bus drivers differently. Failed drug tests among bus drivers employed by Wilson County Schools results in automatic termination, but a Williamson County Schools bus driver who failed a drug test was only suspended.
A spokesperson for Wilson County Schools says that drivers often keep their jobs after complaints and behavioral issues due to the difficulty of finding qualified drivers.
What Are the Top Causes of School Bus Accidents?
A single school bus accident has the potential to seriously injure dozens of students. The risk of children suffering critical and even life-threatening injuries during bus accidents means that many school districts in Middle Tennessee have strict requirements when hiring bus drivers. However, bus drivers can put children at risk when they fail to uphold their responsibilities and follow traffic laws every time they get behind the wheel.
Some of the most common causes of school bus accidents include:
Distracted drivers are a growing problem on Tennessee roadways, and bus drivers are no exception to this epidemic. In addition to being susceptible to distractions like smartphones and other electronic devices, bus drivers also may have to deal with disruptive students and the act of disciplining bus riders. Many school districts employ bus monitors who are responsible for watching students and making sure they don’t distract the driver while he or she is picking up or dropping off children.
Speeding is a primary risk factor for all types of accidents, but because buses are so much heavier and longer than ordinary passenger vehicles, it can make them even more difficult to control. Like large trucks, buses require intense focus and concentration to drive, particularly on narrow roadways and when negotiating turns. When drivers are speeding, they not only have less time to react, but they are more likely to lose control and crash into other vehicles or nearby objects.
Bus drivers are often assigned to the same route for weeks, months, or even years. Eventually, the familiarity and monotony of the route can cause them to become sleepy or even susceptible to “highway hypnosis” while behind the wheel. That problem is compounded if they are already fatigued or sleep-deprived. When drivers are sleepy, their focus and concentration are severely compromised, and if they fall asleep while the bus is in motion, the risk of an accident skyrockets.
While many school bus accidents are caused by driver error, some are caused by poorly maintained buses. Like all vehicles, school buses require frequent maintenance and repairs to remain safe to drive. That includes things like replacing brakes and tires at regular intervals and checking buses for potentially dangerous malfunctions. When school districts or bus owners fail to keep up regular maintenance schedules, serious accidents can occur due to critical parts failing while the bus is in motion.
Other factors that can lead to school bus accidents include the carelessness of other drivers, bad weather conditions, and improper driver education and training. Regardless of how these accidents occur, they can put young children at serious risk of suffering debilitating and even life-threatening injuries.
Matt Hardin Law’s team of Nashville bus accident attorneys knows how dangerous bus crashes can be, and we also know that victims often require extensive medical treatment to recover. If you or someone you know was injured in a bus accident, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation. Get in touch with our legal team today by dialing (615) 200-1111 or completing a free online consultation form to find out how we can assist you.