School bus accidents raise concerns among parents

JACKSON, Tenn. — Two serious accidents involving school buses struck the state of Tennessee in a span of just four days.

school-busA crash near Nashville on Friday was followed by a fatal crash Monday in Chattanooga.

These accidents are raising concern about school bus safety.

However, transportation employees for Jackson-Madison County Schools say parents should rest easy.

“The Federal Motor Carriers Association has rated school buses as the No. 1 safest way to transport children,” said Keith Woods, director of transportation for Jackson-Madison County Schools. “It’s been proven for multiple years.”

Woods says buses are built with a child’s safety in mind.

For example, a school bus has more lights on the exterior than any other vehicle. Every bus driver is also monitored by camera.

According to the National Highway Safety Administration, approximately 450,000 public school buses transport 23.5 million children to and from school and school-related activities each year, and on average six of those children are killed in bus accidents.

Though the cause of the recent bus crashes are under investigation, Woods says distracted driving is the No. 1 cause of an accident in any vehicle.

“Sure, there is a level of concern,” he said. “But I want everyone to know that we are just concerned or maybe even greater because we deal with it every day.”

Whether or not seat belts should be installed in buses is an ongoing debate, but Woods says they might do more harm than good.

“When there is 50 kids on a bus, who is going to make sure they all have their seat belts on? It also makes it more difficult to get them out if there is an accident,” he said.

Mechanics that work on Jackson-Madison County buses say they inspect the vehicles on a regular basis and that safety of the children is their priority.

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