In May 2015, a young girl in Jefferson County was dragged by her school bus for a quarter of a mile after her backpack got stuck in its door. Now 13 years old, the accident victim and her family are demanding new technology to help prevent these types of tragedies.
The accident occurred when her school bus driver was talking with a student next to her. A glass jar filled with pencils and an ornamental rose led to a blind spot which blocked her view.
The accident victim was going home after school. After the door closed on her backpack, the bus dragged her for a quarter mile for around a minute. It ran a stop sign and turned a corner before the driver was aware of what happened.
The girl underwent eight surgeries, skin grafts and scar revisions. The bus driver was fired.
A personal injury lawsuit against the Jefferson County Public Schools lasted three years. It was ultimately settled for $5 million.
Generally, school buses are among the safest vehicles. Students are 70 times more likely to get to school safely on a school bus than in a car, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.
A study of school bus accidents since 2015 by WHAS 11 indicates that that school bus injuries reported to the state police dropped significantly. Reported injuries fell from 311 in 2015 to 28 so far in 2021. Fatalities also fell from three in 2015 to one this year.
But inattention or distracted driving, according to state police data, is the biggest threat to school bus safety.
The camera inside the bus recorded the accident. But the victim and her family are demanding, in addition to indoor and outdoor cameras, sensors on the doors. These sensors are being tested according to a manager with the Kentucky Department of Education.
A Jefferson County Public Schools’ spokesperson said that bus drivers are trained to check doors and mirrors before the bus moves. Their buses are equipped with inside cameras but without outdoor cameras and sensors. This is estimated to cost $2,000 for each bus.
Victims of vehicle accidents may suffer serious injuries requiring long-term medical care and other losses. Attorneys can assist them with seeking compensation through a lawsuit.