Gottheimer: Third Deadly Bus Accident This Week Signals Urgent Need for SECURES Act, Requiring Seat Belts on School Buses

December 6, 2018, 12:45 pm |

 Gottheimer Calls on Congress to Pass Bus Safety Legislation Before End of Year

 This week, the United States experienced three fatal accidents involving buses carrying school children. The spate of crashes during the holiday season heightens the urgent need for Congress to take action before the end of the year and pass the bipartisan Secure Every Child Under the Right Equipment Standards (SECURES) Act of 2018. The bill will require all school buses to have three-point lap-and-shoulder seat belts and encourages innovative measures to ensure that students are actually wearing their seat belts while on school buses.

 “The evidence couldn’t be clearer: seat belts in school buses save lives. Congress should be doing everything in its power, including passing the SECURES Act, before the end of the year, to help protect our children in New Jersey, Indiana, Illinois, Arkansas, and across the country. Department of Transportation studies concluded that adding lap-and-shoulder seat belts to school buses will save lives. How many more fatal school bus accidents do our families have to endure?” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5).

 

  • In Indiana on Wednesday, a school bus carrying children to a Christmas musical was hit from behind by a truck, killing a teenage boy.

 

  • In Illinois on Wednesday, a school bus carrying a girls basketball team collided with a semi-truck, killing two.

 

  • In Arkansas on Monday, a bus carrying a youth all-star football team overturned, killing one child and injuring 45 others.

 

In May, Gottheimer announced his bipartisan SECURES Act following the Paramus bus accident that killed two in North Jersey, including Miranda Vargas. Gottheimer also introduced Miranda’s Law, a bill that will require automatic notifications of driver violations to school districts and school bus companies within 24 hours, so they can take immediate action to keep unsafe drivers off the road and away from our children. With Gottheimer’s assistance, the New Jersey Legislature passed a series of bills that would raise safety and accountability standards on all school bus operators, local school districts, and school bus drivers in New Jersey.

 

NATIONAL SCHOOL BUS SAFETY WEEK

 

Held during the third full week of October each year, National School Bus Safety Week is an active and evolving public education program and an excellent way for parents, students, teachers, motorists, school bus operators, school administrators, and other interested parties - to join forces and address the importance of school bus safety. Designed to promote school bus safety, school districts throughout the country observe School Bus Safety Week.

2016-winning-poster

2018 National School Bus Safety Week: October 22-26, 2018 and the theme is "My Driver - My Safety Hero!" The theme of National School Bus Safety Week is derived from the Poster Contest the year before. The 2017 winning poster, depicted above, was drawn by Aumkar Patel, a 5th Grader at Henry County Schools in McDonough, GA.

Celebrate National School Bus Safety Week! We have a very limited quantity of printed posters available this year. We, therefore, encourage you to utilize an electronic copy of the poster for National School Bus Safety Week this year. Click here to request the electronic copy of this year's poster. ​Once submitted a member of NAPT staff will review your request and contact you directly. If approved, the 2018 NSBSW poster image will be distributed through a DropBox link with guidelines for its use and printing.​​

Looking for school bus safety tips all year round? Click here for some great tips from NAPT.

The National School Bus Safety Week program is hosted by:



 

NTSB News Release
National Transportation Safety Board Office of Public Affairs

 Lack of Driver Oversight Key Issue in School Bus Safety Special Investigation Report

​WASHINGTON (May 22, 2018) – The National Transportation Safety Board released its findings Tuesday from a Special Investigation report identifying recurring safety issues in school bus transportation safety.

The Special Investigation Report was prompted by the NTSB’s investigation of the Nov. 1, 2016, crash involving a Baltimore City school bus and a transit bus, and, the Nov. 21, 2016, crash of a Hamilton County school bus in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  The two crashes injured 37 people and killed 12.

The report cites the overall safety of school buses yet notes a similarity in the two fatal accidents investigated.  The lack of driver oversight which was found to be causal in both accidents. The NTSB found this lack of oversight by not only the school districts in Baltimore and Chattanooga, but also by the motor carriers under contract to the school districts to provide student transportation, which employed the drivers in the two crashes.

In both cases, school bus drivers continued to operate school buses unsafely, with no remedial action taken, even when driver safety issues were known. In addition to lack of oversight, the Baltimore report focused on medically unfit school bus drivers, and commercial driver license fraud.

The report also addressed safety enhancements for school buses, ranging from lap/shoulder belts to technologies such as electronic stability control, automatic emergency braking, and event data recorders.

“The school bus is still statistically the safest way to get to school,” said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt.  “This is not about choosing another option. It is about closing gaps in school bus safety. Unsafe drivers are a hazard, unsafe systems allow hazards to persist, and systems cannot be safe without effective oversight.”

The NTSB conducted investigations of both crashes and noted, in addition to the oversight issues cited in the two accidents, that the cause of the Baltimore crash included the loss of vehicle control due to incapacitation of the bus driver because of a seizure stemming from a long-standing seizure disorder. In the Chattanooga, Tennessee, investigation the NTSB determined that the cause of the crash included the school bus driver’s excessive speed and cell phone use which led to the loss of vehicle control.

As a result of the findings of the special investigation, the NTSB issued 16 safety recommendations: one each to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the State of Maryland and the Maryland State Department of Education, three to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, one to the National  Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services,  National Association for Pupil TransportationNational School Transportation AssociationAmerican School Bus Council, and Maryland School Bus Contractors Association; one to the National Express LLC; one to the school bus manufacturers Blue Bird CorporationCollins Industries, Inc., IC BusStarcraft BusThomas Built BusesTrans Tech, and Van-Con, Inc.; one to the electronic health record companies EpicCerner CorporationeClinicalWorksMEDITECH, and NextGen Healthcare;  and one to Concentra, Inc.

The NTSB also made one recommendations to 42 states, the District of Columbia, and the territory of Puerto Rico, all of which lack requirements for lap/shoulder belts on large school buses. The NTSB made one recommendation to the states of Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, and New York to amend their statutes to upgrade their seatbelts requirements from lap-only belts to lap and shoulder belts.

Early in the Baltimore investigation, the NTSB identified deficiencies in the oversight of school bus driver qualifications and operations. To address these failures, the NTSB issued two safety recommendations to the Baltimore City Public Schools and one to the Maryland State Department of Education.

The NTSB also released accident dockets for both crashes, which contain the evidence and information used to determine probable cause.  The docket for the Baltimore school bus crash is available at https://go.usa.gov/xQWphand the Chattanooga school bus crash docket is available at https://go.usa.gov/xQ9pf.

A synopsis of the NTSB special investigation report “Selective Issus in School Bus Transportation Safety: Crashes in Baltimore, Maryland and Chattanooga, Tennessee”, including the findings, probable causes for both crashes and a complete list of the safety recommendations is available at: https://go.usa.gov/xQmkC.

The full report will be available on the NTSB website in a few weeks.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.