(WJW) – School bus crashes keep making headlines, so the FOX 8 I-Team investigated to find what’s happening on the roads with the safety of your kids.
We uncovered what every parent should know.
One crash this school year left a student dead. In Clark County, the Ohio State Highway Patrol says a minivan hit a school bus.
It left an 11-year-old dead, more than 20 kids hurt and the driver of the minivan facing felony charges including aggravated vehicular homicide.
In September, a Marlington Local School District school bus driver lost control. A bus filled with kids overturned.
Recently, a Findlay school bus hit a pickup and went down an embankment.
Parents depend on their child’s safety when they get on the bus, and one mom said, after seeing the Clark County crash, “it will probably never leave my mind.”
The Ohio State Highway Patrol has found, statewide, the overall number of school bus crashes this year is down.
But, last year, the number of bus passengers hurt in crashes totaled 225. The highest number in at least five years.
Last year, the number of bus drivers at fault totaled 603. That number is also the highest in at least five years.
In fact, troopers found the bus driver at fault in the Marlington Schools crash. The investigation found that driver lost control on a curve and she faced charges.
We also investigated what’s causing school bus crashes. The Highway Patrol did an analysis with more than a dozen factors: speeding, running a light, drivers pulling in front of others and more.
We found the leading reasons behind school bus crashes are very similar to the leading reasons for crashes you get into driving every day.
“We don’t want to see any fatalities or any injuries when it comes to school buses,” Highway Patrol Sgt. Bridget Matt said.
She added that the top causes for school bus crashes are not surprising.
“A lot of failure to yield, improper turn, following too close. Those are typical crash cause variables that we see across the board,” she said.
We also looked into what’s done to make sure the buses are safe. Steps taken to make sure every bus that hauls a child meets the same standards.
“There are 182 points of inspection on every bus that we are looking at,” staff lieutenant Aaron Reimer said. “We do get violations of brakes where they’re just out of adjustment. Things that are mechanical in nature. It can be something as simple as the latch underneath a seat is not latched properly.”
The inspections and the investigations can get complex. The buses, bus drivers and everyone else on the road can all be factors in your child’s safety.
Now, after that deadly bus crash in August, the governor has formed a special group to look into how to improve school bus safety.
Meanwhile, the I-Team found that the Marlington school bus driver involved in the September crash had six listed accidents in Stark County from 2002 to 2012.
That driver had also been convicted on six traffic charges from 1999 to 2018. Those convictions included failure to yield, assured clear distance, driving left of center and running a stop sign.
Records show that the driver plead guilty to failure to control for the bus crash.
The I-Team asked to look at the personnel records of the other drivers for the Marlington Local School District, which are public record in Ohio.
We wanted to show parents the driving records of the people transporting their kids, but the district wouldn’t let us see the records, claiming our request was “overly broad.”
Still, our investigation has found how often school buses are crashing and who is to blame. Big crash or fender-bender, it’s always alarming.