School buses are used in Colorado to transport about 363,000 children to and from the various schools of the state every day. When you put your child on the bus you are placing your trust in the bus driver to get your kid safely to school. In addition, you are trusting that the school district hired a competent and responsible person to transport a bus full of children. However, this is not always the case.
After two serious bus accidents last year, a local news station , 9News, and Rocky Mountain PBS News recently looked into the rate of school bus crashes in Colorado. The results showed that since 2011, Colorado school buses have "been involved in more than 1,500 crashes in the state." This averages out to about "two bus crashes a day – every day – during the school year." A large number of these crashes, over 700, "were deemed by police investigators to be the fault of the bus drivers." Of these "[m]ore than 70 of those crashes caused by the bus drivers resulted in injuries – 377 people in all were hurt." Those injured include "children on buses and motorists and passengers in vehicles they smashed into." The data that the news station looked at showed that the most injuries occurred in rear-end accidents. In 69 accident cases, drivers were "preoccupied or distracted by passengers." In another 47 cases, the "driver's inexperience played a major role." In addition, the data showed that the majority of the accidents occurred when buses hit parked cars. And while driver error caused the majority of accidents other things were also at fault for the school bus crashes. For example, weather conditions also caused a "quarter of the wrecks" and played a role in other accidents as well.
One of the bus crash stories that prompted this investigation occurred in December of 2015. Elizabeth Burris was driving a bus with eight passengers, who ranged in "age from 7 to 15." The bus "veered off the right side of the road," when Burris "tried to get the bus back onto the road . . . she overcorrected, causing it to roll onto its left side." There were a number of injuries from the incident, with six of the nine bus occupants going to the hospital. The driver was subsequently arrested after the accident on "suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs." She is now facing additional charges including, "two counts of vehicular assault, eight counts of child abuse, [and] five counts of careless driving resulting in injury." Her attorney has since claimed that she was not intoxicated at the time of the accident and claims that a urine and blood test she took at the hospital prove that. An officer at the scene, however, stated in an arrested affidavit that "'Burris showed indicia of drug impairment and stated that she was on about six different prescription medications.'" Burris no longer works for the school district and her trial is set to begin in mid-September.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Jeremy Rosenthal today for a free case consultation.