• FOX13 Investigates: Deadly school bus crashes across the country

    By: Kirstin Garriss

    Updated:

    The shell of a school bus is all that’s left after a deadly rollover crash in Benton County, Mississippi this week.

    FOX13 called and emailed the Mississippi Department of Public Safety and Education for information about the number of bus crashes during the 2018-2019 school year from agencies.

    We found out the National Safety Council tracks these deadly crashes across the county. In 2017, there were 84 crashes involving school buses – taking lives of 95 people.

    The data showed eight of the deaths were school bus drivers, four were school bus passengers and a majority were people driving in other cars.

    After taking a closer look at the Mid-South, three of those deadly bus crashes happened in Mississippi and there weren’t any in Tennessee and Arkansas.

    The crashes happened in rural Mississippi and the victims were not driving the bus, they were driving in a car.

    Data showed the crashes happened in August, October, and November during the daytime. Speeding was a factor for one of the crashes. 

    According to the Mississippi Department of Education, if a bus driver is involved in an accident during the school year, they might be required to attend regular bus school the following summer.

    We also investigated seatbelt requirements in the county. Eight states across the county require seatbelts on school buses, and Arkansas is one of them.

    However, Mississippi law currently doesn’t require seatbelts on buses – but that could be changing.

    A Mississippi state lawmaker introduced a bill to add seatbelts to all new school buses. The legislation didn’t make it to the statehouse floor, but she’s not the only Mid-South lawmaker thinking about the concept.

    Last session, Representative Debra Gibbs introduced House Bill 1233. It would have required the school board to add seatbelts to all new school buses – but that legislation died in committee.

    We called Gibbs several times to see if she’ll reintroduce the legislation during the next session, but we didn’t get a callback.

    At the federal level, Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen sponsored the school bus safety act this summer, which would require all school buses to have a three-point safety belt.

    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration mandates school bus regulations. They said larger school buses don’t need seatbelts because they are heavier and distribute crash forces differently than a regular car.

    Next Up: