O’Brien & Zehnder - New Name, New Look, Same Great FirmRead more »

LAUSD School Bus Inspections Reveal Major Safety Issues

Posted on January 17th, 2014 by Staff

Last year, bus inspections in Los Angeles have reported major safety violations. LAUSD school buses have been taking students to and from their schools while having serious problems such as fuel leaks, bad brakes, and steering issues. The reports came from the California Highway Patrol, which inspects school buses every 13 months in terminals. Parents had no way of knowing that these safety violations endangered their kid's lives. Even though the district is aware ahead of time and can get every vehicle ready for inspectors, they found 51 buses that were ordered out of service, taken off the streets because of mechanical problems.

Before these inspections, children were on board on every bus. Inspectors found several buses with worn tires, bad breaks, steering issues and fuel leaks that might have caused a tragedy. Following the rigorous inspections from the California Highway Patrol, all buses were repaired immediately and put back on the streets. Bus number 6308, previously taken out of service because of a fuel leak was now shuttling students to Reseda High School. The LAUSD states that the buses are safe, as they are not only inspected by the CHP but also their mechanics every 45 days.

The district issued the following statement, assuring parents that all the buses are safe:

"Parents can be assured that the safety of students, including the safe school bus transportation for students, is a priority at LAUSD and every precaution is taken to ensure that school buses are safely inspected and maintained."

Are School Buses Really Safe for Your Children?

Taking a bus to school is the safest way to get there, as experts claimed. But when the buses have major technical issues, they can easily endanger the lives of the passengers. Nationwide, more than 9 billion students are transported to schools each year, with a student occupant fatality rate of 6 per year. The injury rate is less than 0.2%. A vital asset to any bus is seatbelts, preventing injuries and even saving lives in the event of a serious crash.

The leading causes of school bus accidents include the following:

  • the passengers were not wearing a seatbelt
  • defective bus parts
  • excessive tire wear
  • tire blowouts
  • running a red light and ignoring traffic signs
  • talking on a cell phone while driving
  • reckless driving

Depending on the gravity of the accidents, injuries span from concussions, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, to broken or crushed bones and even death. Accidents can be extremely traumatic for children, and it may take years for full recovery. Long term treatment, surgeries, and physical therapy are needed in the event of a serious bus accident. Disabilities and cognitive impairment or paralysis are the effects of brain or spinal cord injuries.

California Laws Concerning School Bus Safety

California requires three-point seat belts on (1) school buses manufactured on and after July 1, 2005, that carry more than 16 passengers, and (2) all other school buses manufactured on and after July 1, 2004. It asks school transportation providers to first allocate seat-belt equipped school buses for elementary school students whenever possible. The state cannot charge any person, school district, or organization with violating this law if a passenger either does not fasten his or her seat belt or does so improperly (Cal. Veh. Code § 27316).

State regulations require school bus passengers to (1) use the seat belts; and (2) be taught how to use them in an age-appropriate manner (Cal. Code Regs. Title 5, § 14105).

In case children and students are injured while on or around the school bus, liability can be established in a number of ways. Improper bus maintenance and design, along with an improper use of flashing lights will be evaluated. More ways to establish liability include:

  • driver’s failure to monitor children’s activities during transportation
  • driver’s negligence and insufficient attention when monitoring the entrances and exits of the bus
  • overcrowding and allowing children to stand 

The following parties are exempted from liability:

  • the state
  • counties
  • school bus operators
  • school districts
  • any of the related agents such as teachers or volunteers

Elk Grove Personal Injury Attorneys John M. O’Brien & Grant Zehnder Will Help You Build a Case

Injuries resulting from a school bus crash involve taking action against the liable parties. John M. O’Brien & Grant Zehnder are successful trial lawyers who have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for injured persons. Backed up by extensive experience in handling serious auto accident cases all across the state of California, Mr. O. Brien is dedicated to helping people affected by injuries and will help them recover the maximum amount of compensation they are entitled to. Contact the Elk Grove-based O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm today at our local line 916.714.8200 or toll-free 800.722.4176.