Recent School Bus Crash Ignites Talks on Increased Safety Measures
Should there be seat belts on a school bus? The school bus crash in Chattanooga, Tennessee that left 6 children dead, ignited calls to impose seat belts on buses. In Kentucky, Sen. Steve West says that there had been a similar discussion and will likely draw attention again once the next session starts in January 2017.
The bus was carrying 35 school children from kindergarten through fifth grade when it turned over on its side, hit a tree, and split apart. The driver, Johnthony Walker, was arrested and charged with reckless driving and multiple counts of vehicular homicide among others.
In May 14, 1988 the deadliest school bus accident involving a drunk driver occurred in rural Carrollton, Kentucky. The bus was carrying 62 teens when a pickup truck driving the wrong way struck it head on. The driver of the truck was drunk, Larry Mahoney was drunk. He survived the horrific crash that killed 27 people and left 34 injured. Only 3 passengers were unharmed.
Here are traffic safety facts from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- A total of 340,039 fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes were recorded from 2004 to 2013. Of these, 1,214 were related to school transportation.
- There were 1,344 deaths recorded, which means an average of 134 fatalities every year.
- School transportation vehicle passengers accounted for 8 percent of the fatalities while 21 percent were non-occupants, for instance pedestrians. Majority of 71%, meanwhile, were passengers of other vehicles involved in the traffic crashes.
- There were 116 school-age pedestrians, or those 18 years and below, who got killed in school transportation vehicle related crashes. Sixty-two percent of those were hit by the school buses, 5% by vehicles that function as school buses, while the remaining 33% by other vehicles involved in the crashes.
School Bus Safety Tips for Parents and Kids
Each school day, around 25 million students take the school bus. School buses are designed for safety. In fact, they are considered the safest vehicle for school children. But even so, there is still room for improving safety. The incorporation of seat belts, for one, has long been talked about.
We can keep kids safe by teaching them road safety habits early on and by being good role models. Here are tips to share with them.
- Advise them to keep a distance from the curb when waiting for the school bus.
- If they have to cross the street after getting off the bus, teach them to always look in all directions first, left and right, so they’ll know when it’s safe.
- Advise the kids to never cross the street right in front of the school bus as the driver and even drivers of approaching vehicles may not see them. Instead, walk at least five giant steps away from the bus and make sure the drivers see them.
As a Kentucky Accident Attorney, I understand how hard it is to deal with traffic crashes, especially losing or seeing your loved ones hurt. Let’s hope that increased safety measures for school transportation vehicles will as well be implemented in Kentucky.