Pittsburgh School Bus Accident Lawyer
Personal Injury Lawyer Representing School Bus Stop Accident Victims Throughout Allegheny County and Western Pennsylvania
Every day across Pittsburgh mothers and fathers send their children out the door to the bus stop to catch a ride to school. Those parents trust that the bus will be secure, that the drivers will be responsible, and that their children will arrive safely to their destination. What they most likely do not consider is whether the bus driver or company complies with state regulations governing their child’s bus stop. If a bus driver violates state law, or if the bus has not been properly inspected, the consequence due to a resulting accident can be devastating. If your child has been injured in a school bus stop accident, you should consult a personal injury attorney for advice on your claim. Contact experienced personal injury attorney Mark Smith for your free consultation today.
Laws Governing School Bus Stops in Pennsylvania
In Pittsburgh, as in every other Pennsylvania city and town, the placement of school bus stops are governed by regulations issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). Chapter 75 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes grants that regulation-making authority to the PennDOT, and only says that it is unlawful for busses to stop to drop off or pick up students at any location other than those stops.
The regulations themselves are more specific and are broken down into three specific categories: off-roadway loading zones, on-roadway loading zones, and separate roadways.
Off-Roadway Loading Zones
The regulations state that off-roadway loading zones should be chosen whenever and wherever possible. An off-roadway loading zone must meet the following requirements:
- It must be big enough to accommodate the bus and the students.
- It must be on the same side of the road where students that get off or on the bus live, eliminating the need to cross traffic or, if students live on the other side of the road from the stop, there must be a traffic signal, stop sign, police officer, or some other properly-attired person able to halt traffic to allow those students to cross.
- It must be able to handle daily usage as a bus stop.
- If it is on private property, its use must be approved by the owner; if it is in a highway right-of-way, its use must be approved by the local authorities.
The advantages to an off-roadway bus stop are clear: they are away from the regular flow of traffic, they easily accommodate the bus and the students, and they ensure that children do not have to cross traffic without the assistance of stop signals or crossing guards.
With such restrictions, off-roadway school bus stops are often the exception, not the rule. If you have ever been behind a school bus on your way to work, you know how many times the bus stops and how often those stops seem to be in places that put children close to the road. Those stops are classified as on-roadway stops, and they are governed by a different set of regulations.
On-Roadway Loading Zones in PA
Pennsylvania regulations state that on-roadway loading zones must only be selected in situations where off-roadway loading zones are not available. Specifically, the regulations say that on-roadway stops should only be used when off-roadway stops are not “possible or practical”. If such a stop is not an option and an on-roadway bus stop is established, it must meet the following requirements:
- The required sight distance for drivers coming from either direction must be at least 500 feet – meaning that a driver within 500 of the bus must be able to see it. However, if the stop is outside of a business or residential district, the sight distance may be less than 500 feet if the school district determines that it is safer for the sight distance to be less than 500 feet than it is to make a child walk to a location that satisfies the sight requirement.
- The on-roadway bus stop location picked by the school district must be approved by the local authorities.
On-roadway bus stops are simply a fact of life, especially in developed urban areas like Pittsburgh. Locations that can accommodate a bus and kids in the city are few and far between, which makes the establishment of on-roadway stops a regular occurrence.
Bus Accidents & Separate Roadways
Separate roadways have their own rules for the establishment of school bus stops and are much more restrictive. Separate roads are defined as roads with actual physical separations between the two directions of traffic, such as a physical barrier or a clearly-indicated dividing section. Painted roadway lines or signage do not create separate roadways.
School bus stops on separate roadways may only be established in the following places:
- Where the students board or exit the bus on the same side of the road as where they live.
- At or near an intersection with a signal or a uniformed individual, which allows students to cross the road with the protection of the traffic signal or where the guard can regulate the flow of traffic.
- At or near an intersection where the traffic on the separate roadway is required to stop for a stop sign.
Who is Responsible for Approving PA School Bus Stops?
PennDOT issues the regulations that govern school bus stop locations in cities across the state, including Pittsburgh. However, each individual school district is responsible for using those guidelines to examine school bus routes and pick stop locations that comply, and in some cases, the local authorities are also responsible for approving the school bus stop location. Each of these groups has a responsibility to act in accordance with those regulations – and failing to do so can put children in danger.
How Common Are School Bus Stop Accidents?
School bus stop accidents are more common than many individuals realize. In fact, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA), four to six children per year die in accidents while on a school bus. While over a three-day period in early November 2018 alone, five children were killed after being struck by vehicles while waiting at a school bus stop across the United States. One of those deaths occurred in central Pennsylvania. NHTSA says that school buses are some of the safest vehicles on the road and that the bus stop itself is actually much more dangerous.
What to do if You Have a Child Injured While Waiting at a School Bus Stop in Pittsburgh or Any Other City in PA?
If you have a child that has been injured while waiting at a school bus stop, it is incredibly important that you immediately contact an experienced school bus stop accident attorney regarding the case. Evidence in accidents like these can quickly disappear because of the outdoor nature of the location of the accident However, you should document as many details about the accident as you can and provide those to your attorney. Your attorney will be able to examine the facts surrounding the accident – in particular, the location of the school bus stop – and help guide you through negotiation and litigation, if necessary.
Contact an Experienced School Bus Stop Accident Attorney Today
If your child has been injured while waiting at a school bus stop, contact the Law Office of Mark A. Smith. Mr. Smith and his staff have the experience needed to successfully guide you through this difficult time and will fight to ensure that your child receives the compensation he or she deserves because of the accident. Contact the Law Office of Mark A. Smith today for a free consultation about your school bus accident claim.