Safety tips from police following back-to-school bus crashes - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Safety tips from police following back-to-school bus crashes

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Officials at the scene of a JCPS bus crash on Aug. 21 at Brownsboro Road. Officials at the scene of a JCPS bus crash on Aug. 21 at Brownsboro Road.
Two people from this car were taken to the hospital with serious injuries after colliding with a JCPS bus on Aug. 21. Two people from this car were taken to the hospital with serious injuries after colliding with a JCPS bus on Aug. 21.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- After three crashes involving JCPS school buses in less than 24 hours, police are urging drivers to use extra caution.

One of those crashes, on the first day of school, was a hit and run. The second crash Tuesday morning at Birchwood and Brownsboro Road Wednesday morning sent seven students to Kosair Children's Hospital, five of them with injuries. 

The driver and passenger of the car involved in that crash were taken to University Hospital with serious injuries.

A non-injury hit-and-run accident occurred on Dixie Highway on the first day of school. 

School leaders say the crashes are more common than some think, and it's up to the public to prevent them.

With all of the recent bus crashes, many are on high alert, but officials say when school is in session, it starts with changing your routine in the morning altogether.

"A lot of drivers want to get anxious and be in a hurry in a lot of times," said Louisville Metro Police Department Spokesperson Dwight Mitchell.

Mitchell says with roughly 1,000 buses carrying around 70,000 children, commuters needs to be adjust their driving.

"What we do ask for motorists is to have patience, especially with the precious cargo that's on there and the potential dangers that could happen," said Mitchell.

JCPS spokesperson Ben Jackey said the congestion is more than the buses on the roads.

"It's not just the 900 buses that have been added to the road, it's the parents who are taking their students to and from school," said Jackey.

Mitchell says one of the things they have been seeing a lot of is cars going through stop signs, and/or failing to yield the right of way to buses or students when they are boarding or exiting buses.

Mitchell says it is always important to maintain a safe following distance drivers should think twice before passing a school bus.

"I don't know if there is ever really a safe time," Mitchell said. "Obviously when you are in a passing zone and you can pass safely, you can do that. But when there's a 10,000-pound bus, there's never really a good time to do that."

Mitchell says the typical following distance for a car would be 15 feet, but that would be multiplied by a significant amount when it comes to a bus.  Specific information on driving laws concerning following and passing school buses are available here.

JCPS officials say their drivers are highly trained before they hit the road, taking at least 80 hours inside of a classroom.

"Unfortunately, accidents do happen and what we try to do is make sure our drivers are trained on how to handle those," Jackey said.

Last year, only around one-third of the accidents were the fault of the bus driver. 

The percentage of "non-chargeable" accidents, where the bus drivers are not at fault, has gone down since 2010, and officials say they have also decreased the amount of buses on the roads.

SCHOOL YEAR NON-CHARGEABLE CHARGEABLE PERCENTAGE
2009-2010 180   83 31.6
2010-2011 150 100 40
2011-2012 154   77 33
2012-2013 170   79 31.7

JCPS officials say they are in the middle of a transition from an old student assignment plan to a new one, with the goal of having less buses on the road, which will hopefully lead to less crashes.

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