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Charter Bus Safety: Distracted Driver Injures Dozens of Students

While the charter bus crash that claimed in 8 lives in California attracted a large share of weekend headlines, a second crash occurred on the opposite end of the country on Saturday. A commercial bus, fully loaded with dozens of high school students, crashed into a low bridge.

Many readers will recognize the disturbing similarities to the recent Miami charter bus crash in which a driver ignored several low-clearance warning signs before hitting an overpass. Here, again, the driver did not respond to a series of signs warning tall vehicles of the low-clearance. The cause here is more clear: the bus company admitted that its driver was looking down at a GPS navigation unit.

By the time the driver focused his attention back on the road, it was too late to avoid the wreck.

This crash is a good example of one of the less obvious ways in which distracted driving can lead to dangerous wrecks. Many Floridians might associate distracted driving dangers with texting and talking on cell phones. In reality, anything that takes a driver's attention away from the road can count as an unreasonably dangerous distraction.

In addition to in-car GPS navigation screens, complex dashboard displays are a common cause of distracted driving crashes. Drivers still have an obligation to remain focused on safety while checking these displays. A distraction is a distraction - even if the source is a built-in vehicle component. Victims of distracted driving are entitled to hold the other driver accountable for failing to drive like a reasonably safe person.

Source: NPR, "Dozens Injured In Boston Bus Crash," Associated Press, Feb. 3, 2013

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