The collision occurred near the intersection of Jackson Highway and Sunrise Boulevard in Rancho Cordova around 4:00 p.m. The California Highway Patrol confirms that a woman driving a Jeep Cherokee ran a red light as she traveled west on Jackson Highway. The school bus, traveling on Sunrise, broadsided the Jeep, killing the male passenger riding with the female driver. The driver was taken to a local hospital to be treated for injuries. There were no children on the school bus at the time and the driver was not injured.
My sincere condolences go out to the family of the victim of this crash.
Controversy over School Bus Accident Statistics
Because of all the safety mechanisms installed on school buses, accidents with these vehicles are relatively rare, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA’s numbers show that about 8,000 children are injured each year in school-bus related accidents; about half of those injuries occur when children are entering or leaving a bus and another half occur in collisions with vehicles.
However, a new study sponsored by the Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests that those figures may be misleading and under-represent the problem of school bus injuries. This new study states that when non-emergency room visit injuries are included in the totals, the number of children injured in school bus accidents each year would be closer to 17,000.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are in opposition on recommendations for safety belts in school buses, as well. The NHTSA claims the belts can actually cause internal injuries for small children during an accident, while the CPSC states that the benefits outweigh remote risks.
Will This Driver Be Charged?
Fortunately, there were no children on this school bus at the time of the accident, so the injury question is moot from the standpoint of liability to school children. However, the damage to the bus will be the responsibility of the driver as the school system will suffer a substantial financial loss.
However, the more important question is the driver’s liability for her passenger. What happens in that regard will depend in large part on the driver’s relationship to the deceased victim. If he was her husband, it is unlikely there will be a wrongful death suit. However, if he was simply a passenger in her car, his family may wish to pursue a wrongful death claim against the driver for causing the accident.
A professional bus accident attorney should examine the facts of this case and determine the true nature of the driver’s liability if the family of the victim does wish to recover compensation for the loss of their loved one.