Local News

Recent School Bus Accidents Raise Awareness Statewide

Posted October 21, 2004

— One child died and two teens were injured this week in separate incidents involving school bus stops. The accidents highlight the danger of drivers not paying attention. Now, bus drivers and school officials are speaking up about safety.

It was a bumpy start for some Wilson County middle-schoolers on Thursday. A car slammed into the back of the stopped school bus just as a student was about to board. Nine students were already on board, but no one was hurt.

On Wednesday, two Johnston County students were hurt when a pickup truck hit them. Investigators said the driver did not stop for a school bus' stop arm. In Robeson County, 6-year-old Miguel Posada was struck and killed by a car while crossing the road to catch the bus. Investigators said that school bus was also stopped.

Shelby Clark, who drives a bus for Clayton High School, said she is not surprised by the series of accidents. Clark said drivers ignore her caution lights all the time.

"It could be foggy [or] rainy. They'll pass you," she said.

The red lights on the bus flash when the door is opened. Clark said a bus can be at a full stop with kids approaching while the lights are still flashing yellow.

"Between 1,500 and 2,000 times a day, school bus drivers report that someone passes their stopped school bus," said Derek Graham, who works at transportation services for the state Department of Public Instruction.

Graham said that is why the state constantly educates schools and drivers on bus safety. He said officials are sharing info on the week's accidents statewide.

"Most of these tragedies are preventable. It's a matter of awareness," Graham said.

Ironically, this week is National Bus Safety Week. Drivers like Clark hope more people will take notice to prevent any more accidents.

"When you see those caution lights flashing, please just slow down," she said.

State statistics show about 46 percent of bus accidents happen in the morning. Twenty-seven percent of accidents happen at a bus stop or a stoplight.

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