Buses are essential for transportation in a developed, metropolitan area. Buses carry us across state lines, transport daily commuters to work, and perhaps, most commonly, are the mode of transportation for the vast majority of students going to and from school. Every day, millions of students file into buses all across the nation. But those buses can be very dangerous; in fact, the standard model of a school bus doesn’t even have seat belts. Due to the number of passengers and lack of mobility, bus accidents can result in more injuries and more deaths than a standard motor vehicle. According to statistics published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1,392 people died and over 75,000 were injured in Massachusetts bus accidents between the years of 2004 and 2008.
One of the top breaking news stories recently is the tragic incident of a school bus accident in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A bus from Woodmore Elementary School reportedly drove off a local road, turning onto its side and slamming into a tree. Multiple police and medical crews arrived to help assist the more than thirty students who were trapped inside. Despite the prompt response, however, six children have been reported dead, while dozens of others required immediate medical treatment. A small fleet of ambulances transported the injured students to nearby hospitals and hundreds of donors arrived at the local blood bank to donate blood after local hospitals began to run low on supply.
While the investigation is still ongoing, officials have reportedly told CNN.com that speed was a factor in the accident and that the bus’s driver, twenty-four-year-old Johnthony Walker, has been arrested and charged with multiple counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving. In addition to the criminal charges he now faces, the driver could also face multiple personal injury lawsuits in civil court for the injuries and deaths he caused. And as his employer, the Woodmore Elementary School could also be potentially liable for the horrendous injuries that were inflicted upon its students.