School buses will be back on the roads of Southwest Florida next week as the 2019-2020 school year officially begins Monday Aug. 12.
Our injury lawyers in Fort Myers and Cape Coral urge all motorists to use caution as the school year begins. Taking an extra couple of minutes can literally avoid a tragedy. More than 70 percent of eligible students ride the bus in Lee County, which operates more than 700 buses traveling more than 12 million miles each school year.
For parents, the Lee County School District offers a searchable database of school-bus routes. Motorists should just count on seeing school buses during their morning and afternoon commute.
Florida School-Bus Law
In 2017 Florida passed the Cameron Mayhew Act, which increases the penalty for motorists who illegally pass a stopped school bus when death or injury results. Florida motorists are required to stop when approaching a school bus with red flashing lights and the STOP arm extended.
This is true even on a divided roadway, unless the road is divided by a raised barrier or unpaved median.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles offers school bus safety tips for motorists:
- Watch for children. This might sound like obvious advice, but focusing too intently on the bus can mean you are missing approaching children.
- Pay special attention in school zones and residential areas. Children can be unpredictable and may wander into the patch of a vehicle.
- Obey signs, signals and crossing guards.
- Obey parking laws when dropping off or picking up students.
When it comes to getting children to and from the bus stop safely, Lee County School Board Policy 7.02 (1) (a) contends the parent is responsible:
“The responsibility of the School Board of Lee County shall begin when students enter the school bus and end when the students depart the school bus. Parents/guardians are responsible for getting students to and from designated bus stops safely, and for their conduct and safety while waiting for the bus.”
Statistically, most injuries involving school busses occur as a child is traveling to or from the bus stop, or while boarding or de-boarding a bus.
School Bus Accident Liability
Determine liability for injury in the wake of a school bus accident is a complex process. In some cases, an at-fault motorist may be responsible. In other cases, the school district may bear some liability, even if another at-fault motorist is blamed for causing a collision. When a motorist is involved in a collision that is blamed on the bus driver, the claim against the school district can be equally complex. These cases often result in serious or fatal injuries to other motorists because striking a school bus is comparable to colliding with a semi or other large commercial vehicle.
An experienced injury lawyer in Fort Myers will be in the best position to carefully review all of the facts and circumstances surrounding an incident, and determine your legal rights.
If you or a loved one is injured, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.