The arrest of a Knox County school bus driver on a drunk driving charge is a stark reminder of the obligation of our school systems to ensure the safety and welfare of students who rely on buses for transportation to and from school.
Knoxville accident lawyers know that the start of the school year is a particularly dangerous time for school bus accidents, as parents, teachers and drivers become accustomed to bus routes and bus safety. But there is no excuse for permitting an intoxicated driver to operate a school bus. Both the school district and the contracted busing company should be asked some tough questions in the wake of this incident.
Traditionally, school buses are a relatively safe mode of transportation, with an average of just 19 fatalities reported nationwide each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. About half of those cases involve pedestrian accidents as a child is boarding or deboarding a school bus.
However, drunk driving is the leading cause of death on the nation's roads, accounting for about one-third of all fatal auto accidents. In 2008, a total of 11,773 motorists were killed in alcohol-related crashes, of the 37,423 fatal accidents reported on the nation's roads.
Additionally, Tennessee car accidents involving school buses can cause serious or fatal injuries to motorists, similar to those caused by tractor-trailer accidents or crashes with other large commercial vehicles.
Volunteer TV reports that the 63-year-old driver was driving the bus to pick up her first child, at about 6:30 a.m., when she rear-ended a truck at a red light on the I-40 East Bound exit ramp on Cedar Bluff Road. She was driving for Hensley Bus Lines; the bus was used for Cedar Bluff Elementary School and special education students at Hardin Valley Academy.
Police say she had a mix of alcohol and drugs in her system and was transported to the hospital so that a blood sample could be taken. She reportedly came close to striking another vehicle at least twice and ran up over a curb before rear-ending the box truck.