Horrific DUI North Carolina School Bus Accident Raises Troubling Questions

May 27, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

The morning of Tuesday, May 17th began like any other in Guilford County. But things took a tragic turn for the worse on Highway 61, as a North Carolina school bus accident near Shoe Road led to two fatalities.

Here’s the rundown on story, courtesy of the WXII12 news website: “The crash happened near Shoe Road at about 8:10 AM as the school bus stopped to pick up a student. The bus driver was waiting for a student to sit down, when a car slammed into the back of the bus, killing both the car’s driver and the passenger.”

According to a highway patrol trooper who investigated, “There was no indication that [the driver of the car] applied his brakes.” He also said a beer can was discovered in the car, leading to the conclusion that alcohol was a factor. He said toxicology reports wouldn’t be available for weeks. “The speed limit along that stretch road is 55 miles per hour. Ingram estimated [the driver’s] speed at between 55 miles per hour and 60 miles per hour.”

Although none of the 18 students on the bus at the time was injured, the students (from Southeast Middle School and Southeast High School) were obviously terribly shaken up – as anyone of any age would be who witnessed a fatal North Carolina bus accident.

The question is: What can we learn from this tragedy? Is this just another chaotic and tragic “blip” – a terrible event that has no ultimate rhyme or reason – or can studying the accident lead us to adopt better policy solutions?

Without really probing the details of what happened – using tools that investigators at a North Carolina bus accident law firm might have, for instance – it may be impossible to extrapolate any lessons… and this itself is a lesson.

Too often, in the face of tragedy, victims demand immediate action and changes to “prevent something like this from ever happening again.” Excellent sentiment, and who could disagree?

But when you jump too quickly to conclusions about what caused what, you can inadvertently cause more problems than you solve. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. But it does mean you need to be very, very, very careful when you design solutions. You must test those solutions. And you must test them in an objective way. And if they don’t work, you need to acknowledge that they don’t work and try something else.

Unfortunately, our policy culture appears to be so politically driven, at least in the field of accident prevention, that we collectively have a difficult time coming up with actual solutions that will really save lives, save money, and generally help to make people’s lives more wonderful. The solution is not to do nothing nor to do “something.” Is to do SMART somethings, measure the effects objectively as best as you can, and keep testing and measuring. Safety is a process. It’s not a one-time fix.

More Web Resources:

WXII12 news item on bus accident

Safety is a process. It’s not a one-time fix


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