Police have charged the operator of a utility truck with making an unsafe left-hand turn and causing a crash that left five elementary school children and their school bus driver with injuries serious enough to require hospital treatment. The wreck occurred late in the afternoon of the September 18, 2014, on Garners Ferry Road near the intersection with Lower Richland Boulevard.
The accident, which happened in Richland County not far from the state capital of Columbia, illustrates both the risks children face while traveling to and from school and the dangers posed by inattentive or negligent truck drivers. First, school buses make big targets. Even though drivers should have no trouble seeing and avoiding buses, the large vehicles get struck with surprising frequency. Fatalities are rare, but hundreds of buses carrying kids to classes and events are driven into by other vehicles each month of each school year.
Considered collectively, the reasons why other drivers run into school buses constitutes the second problem. Ignoring stop signals when buses take on or let off students, passing unsafely, following too closely, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and failing to yield right of way while merging or turning all lead to collisions. The utility truck operator in South Carolina certainly did not make way for the bus, though it is unclear whether the at-fault driver was distracted, impatient or just acting unsafely.
As Carolina personal injury and wrongful death lawyers who have helped many families hold the people who hurt their children accountable, we know that nothing is as valuable or worth protecting as a young person's health and life. Every driver sharing the road with a school bus must act on that truth.