Many of you have kids riding school buses and a crash Monday n Los Angeles involving a fatality (a man walking in a crosswalk) raised many of the important issues facing communities with the big yellow buses and how to keep them safe as possible.
Here's how the LOS ANGELES TIMES reported the sad event which injured many students and the bus driver:
(Start LA Times) Criminal homicide charges are being weighed in connection with a hit-and-run accident that killed one person and injured nearly two dozen students aboard a school bus in Boyle Heights on Monday, authorities said.
The driver of a black BMW ran a red light, knocked down a pedestrian and broadsided a school bus that was returning students to Roosevelt High School, according to Miguel Luevano, a California Highway Patrol spokesman.
The BMW’s driver and a passenger jumped out of the car and ran, but both were quickly apprehended by a construction worker who had seen the crash, Luevano said. (A third suspect tried to get medical treatment at a local hospital later that evening and was turned over to police).
This horrific crash occured Monday, October 25th, 2010, in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles; a pedestrian was killed, the bus driver was hospitalized and more than 20 high school kids, passengers on the bus, were also taken to local area hospitals for obvious injuries, including a broken bone, and as a precaution
Authorities said they are investigating whether drunk driving might be involved in the 3:22 p.m. collision at 1st and Soto streets. The BMW driver and passenger are juveniles.
Marco Valdez, 17, a passenger on the bus, told The Times the bus had been coming from the East Los Angeles Skills Center when the car hit a pedestrian and then swerved into the bus. The bus overturned and slid onto a Metrolink platform.
Authorities said 21 people -- all but one students -- were taken to hospitals for non-life-threatening injuries. The bus driver was hospitalized in serious condition. (End LA TIMES)
The bus driver was initially reported in serious condition; on KTTV/11 FOX News that night, his fiancé' reported she had seem him and he was in good condition, and showed photos of him she had just taken and he appeared in reasonably fine fettle.
Here are just some of the issues which came to mind immediately after hearing about the crash, and this first one should be raised by parents, at the least:
1) The crash took place at one of Los Angeles' busiest, most legendary intersections; given our recent discussion here of the admitted failure by the City of Los Angeles of their red light cameras to either slow accidents or even raise money at equipped intersections, we should all ask: were there cameras at this intersection? They could offer a non-debatable record of the wreck itself which could include the BMW running the red light, hitting and killing the pedestrian and then flipping the bus? Or was the placement of red light cameras in this neighborhood decided on a political, not statistical basis, as the LAPD and LA City Council has already stated? Seems to me all the parties involved should get inundated with questions like these.
2) Were there seat belts on the bus? Does the driver have a seat belt and is he/she mandated to use it?
3) Why are school bus seat belts not mandated by the government in every state?
4) How can a 3-series BMW, the second-smallest sold in the U.S., flip over a much more massive school bus?
5) What are the roof crash and crush standards, rollover standards and other exterior wreck standards mandated for school buses and how can we compare them to standards for, say, SUVs and other full-size SUVs and/or large crossovers? And are these standards available in plain English, not government “legalese”?
There are many other questions I'm certain you can easily come up with and comments you’d like to make; please share them here and with your local school districts. Including one about the School Superintendent based on a sound bite run on KABC/TV7 Tuesday morning: Ramon Cortinez said, when asked why seat belts were not found on school buses, it was because, to paraphrase, "We follow the law and there is no law mandating seat belts."
Was this intersection where the wreck occured, certainly among the busiest in Los Angeles, equipped with "red light cameras" which are supposed to catch red light runners in the act, and, if not, why? Recently the LA City Council and LAPD admitted placement of the 30-or-so cameras installed by the city cost $1.3 million a year to operate, digging the city deeper into debt, and were placed for political, not statistical, reasons.
Did you know there are school bus seat belts mandated by law in very few parts of the country, and those are always local rules?
To find out why, in a 2006 study, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration decided to not order them nationally, click on this line. It's information you may find very surprising and definitely interesting.
Then there was this, coincidentally released this week, from the Washington Post as reported by Associated Press: "School buses are safe enough without seat belts and students in many cases ignore a requirement to wear them, according to a study in Alabama released Monday that found the straps would save the life of about one child every eight years."
Millions of kids ride them every day and their parents (and most other people simply on the road) worry about the drivers, the buses themselves and of course, the safety of the students on-board.
In the world of transportation, protecting these kids should be among our top priorities. Even if the number of injuries and deaths is quite small, we should investigate to see if the buses could be made even safer. We all scream about what’s going on in the classrooms around our country, and rightly so, but what about how the kids get to and from school as they ride these buses?
Photos by Los Angeles Times