A 15-year-old Livingston ISD high-school freshman was struck and killed by an 18-wheeler in a fatal truck accident while getting off at his bus stop on Thursday, December 7th. Officials from the Texas DPS say that the trucking accident occurred in a northbound outside lane along US-59 around 4:15 p.m. The teen was getting off at his bus stop when a negligent 18-wheeler rammed into a car stopped behind the bus and veered to the right before striking the student. The school bus was stopped at a designated bus stop and witnesses state that the bus had its flashing lights on and stop sign extended when the 18-wheeler made impact with the car. The 15-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene.
This incident demonstrates the need to investigate the possible reasons why the truck driver did not stop for the school bus. The driver is now being charged with Criminally Negligent Homicide for the murder of the 15-year-old boy which is punishable by a fine up to $10,000.00 and incarceration for up to 2 years.
Other Penalties for Failing to Stop for a School Bus
As written in the Texas Transp. Code Section 545.066, in the state of Texas, it is a law that all motor vehicles approaching from either side have a duty to stop for a school bus that is operating visual signals. The visual signals include the stop sign on the side of the bus that is extended and the flashing lights on the outside of the bus. Failure to stop for a school bus is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $500 up to $1,250 and can result in the suspension of the driver’s license and jail time when the action causes serious injury.
Determining the Cause of Truck Accidents
Any time an 18-wheeler wreck occurs, a thorough truck accident investigation is needed. Fatality investigations take even longer. In this case, somehow the truck driver failed to stop his truck even though there was a large yellow bus with flashing lights and another car stopped behind it in broad daylight. It would seem that he obviously didn’t notice this, but the real question is why. Clearly, distracted driving was an issue in this case.
Distracted Driving and Fatal Truck Accidents
Several types of distractions may affect truck drivers. These include things like driver fatigue, cell phone or other electronic device use while driving, simply not paying attention, and use of alcohol or drugs while driving. Additionally, medical emergencies and distractions by others within or outside the vehicle may cause a driver to be distracted.
Driver Fatigue in the Trucking Industry
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, about 30 to 40 percent of all truck accidents are believed to be caused by driver fatigue. Under federal law, a truck driver’s hours of service are limited to 11 consecutive hours within a 14-hour period encompassing 3 hours of off-duty time within that 14-hour window. After the 14-hour window, they must take 10 hours of full break—meaning they cannot drive. However, truck drivers are not required to sleep during that 10-hour period. Additionally, a truck driver may only be “on duty” for a total of 70 hours per week. Failure to comply with these rules can result in license suspensions and heavy fines to the trucking company.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for trucking companies and their drivers to ignore certain regulations in order to make more money. Some trucking companies may send their drivers back on the road without an adequate amount of sleep. The drivers may rely on energy boosts or heavy caffeine to not “doze off.” The energy boost may help the trucker temporarily; however, when the product wears out, the trucker can easily become distracted on the road. This type of negligent conduct can result in both the truck driver being liable and vicarious liability being imputed to the trucking company that hired him.
The Electronic Data Recorder
An important factor in figuring out what went wrong in a truck accident is an electronic data recording device installed in every 18-wheeler known as the “black box.” The box contains important details about the truck’s driving pattern, speed, time on the road, and other details that can give insight on driver fatigue and erratic driving. A Texas truck accident lawyer can get a court-ordered inspection and bring an expert witness who is qualified to download and decipher the data from these devices after a serious truck accident.
Talk to a Trucking Accident Lawyer
If a truck driver or their employer disregards federal trucking regulations, it can lead to hazardous driving situations and catastrophic outcomes. In this instance, the trucker’s actions on the road lead to the death of a young, 15-year-old boy. The incident likely could have been avoidable if the trucker had been alert to his surroundings and had come to a complete stop behind the bus. If you believe that your child was hurt in an accident while getting off the school bus or elsewhere due to the negligence of other drivers, talk to a truck accident lawyer to find out what your options are going forward. Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. have been helping victims of truck and bus accidents since 1979.