Fatal crash at school bus stop in Indiana sheds light on need for safety

School bus safety is on a lot of parents' monds after three kids were killed in Indiana this week trying to cross the road to get on their bus.

Posted: Nov 1, 2018 7:16 PM
Updated: Nov 1, 2018 7:17 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- School bus safety is on a lot of parents' minds after three kids were killed in Indiana this week trying to cross the road to get on their bus.

Chris Ellison, the transportation director for the Eugene School District 4J said safety is a two-way street.

He said 4J stresses driver training, but he asked the public to adhere to the law.

Millions of children board school buses everyday, which means millions of parents expect their children to arrive to and from school safely.

"Our children are our future, so it's important we protect them and they're vulnerable," said Scott Moore, Eugene resident and parent of eight. "They don't realize what's going on. We're the ones that should be looking out for them."

Ellison said he's noticed drivers not obeying the law when it comes to stopping behind school buses that are stopped with their lights on.

"The public is being inattentive," he said. "They're passing school buses when it's required by law to stop."

Ellison said stops on River Avenue and Good Pasture Island Road in Eugene are a concern.

To fight the problem, drivers and students are both trained on the proper ways to cross the street.

"If they are going to cross, they're being picked up in the morning ... they wait to cross the road until they see the driver give them that signal," Ellison said. "In the afternoon, they actually cross in front of the bus to the front left corner of the bus. It's actually a double check."

Under state law, drivers face a fine of $630 for passing a stopped school bus with its red lights on.

If you put a child in danger, you're looking at a class A misdemeanor for reckless driving.

"I think that all of us can be impateient with school buses because we want to get somewhere quickly, but the fact of the matter is we all have to put our own needs on hold and realize the community needs are more important," he said.

While the 4J school district emphasizes driver training, Ellison admits that sometimes bus drivers are at fault.

However, he said the district hasn't seen any major bus-related crashes.

"We have had no injuries due to these accidents as far back as I can remember and a bus is built to a federal construction standard for a reason," he said. "The school buses fair better than the passenger car."

Statistics back this up.

According to the National Safety Council, from 2007 to 2016, 70 percent of deaths in school bus-related crashes were in vehicles other than a school bus.

To learn more about bus safety and crashes, click here.

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