With children throughout the state heading back to class within the next few weeks, the timing is right for the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education to raise awareness about school bus safety. The “Flashing Red. Kids Ahead.” campaign is a reminder of what the blinking lights mean for motorists sharing the road with buses. Yellow indicates that drivers should use caution around pedestrians, especially younger children and anyone using nearby crosswalks. Red lets them know to stop immediately until the bus removes the traffic signs and indicates drivers can proceed.
Parents, school administrators, law enforcement, and other officials throughout Arkansas officials rely on school bus flashing lights to alert drivers that children are present. Still, despite these efforts, hundreds of children are hurt or killed in accidents. Many of these incidents are the result of driver negligence, such as speeding, failure to yield, and other violations of Arkansas traffic laws. Distracted driving continues to be a problem in the state and across the US, despite the criminal and civil penalties.
Timothy Smith, a founding partner at Elliott & Smith Law Firm in Fayetteville, AR, had some additional insight. “Parents must do their part to educate children about school bus safety. Accidents are most common when kids are getting on or off the bus. They’re not as common when the vehicle is in traffic, which comes as a surprise to some. Children need to understand the buses can be dangerous, and that they need to follow instructions by school officials around buses.”
In Arkansas, it is possible to recover damages when a child is injured in a school bus accident. A family can obtain compensation for medical expenses and the lost wages for a parent who misses work to care for the child. There are also legal options when a child dies because of negligence in a school bus accident. Potential parties may include:
To avoid accidents, Arkansas officials recommend that parents have a conversation with children about school bus safety before heading back to class. Though flashing lights can lead to fewer accidents, children need to know they can protect themselves from injury.