In a bid to reduce school bus accident injuries, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is renewing a call for states to require passenger lap and shoulder belts on new, large school buses as well as other safety measures.
A recent crash between a school bus and a service utility vehicle in Decatur, Tennessee, that killed two people, including a 7-year-old child prompted the safety agency to reiterate its longstanding recommendations to improve school bus passenger safety.
“This case is a gut-wrenching reminder that failure to act on our recommendations can lead to unimaginable — and preventable — tragedy,” NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said. “School buses are often praised for their safety record, but we’ve become complacent. Children’s lives are at stake. The time to act is now.”
Preventing School Bus Accidents and Injuries
In addition to recommending that new buses be equipped with passenger lap and shoulder belts, the agency recommended requiring systems to “prevent lane departure” on large vehicles.
According to the National Agency for Automotive Safety, a Lane Departure Prevention System (LDPS) is a “system that detects the position of the lane marking with the onboard camera for controlling the vehicular movement to keep the vehicle in the lane and tries to get the vehicle back in the lane when the vehicle is about to cross the lane marking. This system does not work when a driver operates a left or right turn blinker and changes the lane intentionally, such as in the case of crossing the centerline to avoid a parked vehicle.”
The agency’s recommendations come after the recent release of a report about an investigation into a school bus accident in Tennessee in 2020. In that accident, a service utility truck was driving down a two-lane state highway when its right-side wheels left the road while the truck driver was checking in his rearview mirror.
The truck crossed into the opposing traffic lane when the truck driver returned to the roadway. A school bus was traveling in the opposite traffic lane at the same moment. Despite hitting her brakes, the bus driver did not have enough time to avoid the collision. A 7-year-old child and the school bus driver were killed in the crash. Four additional passengers were seriously injured, while ten received minor injuries.
School Bus Accidents
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