RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - According to The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, the number of crashes involving school buses has increased over the past five years.
There have been a number of accidents just this year. On Monday, a woman slammed into the back of a Dinwiddie County School Bus packed with kids.
“People just aren’t paying attention to buses,” Drew Story said.
Retired Chesterfield School bus driver Drew Story said we won’t see the last school bus accident in the Commonwealth until all drivers decide to do better.
“They are in such a hurry to get to work that staying behind a school bus for an extra minute is creating dangerous situations,” Story said.
According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, in the past five years school bus crashes have gone up 3 percent, killing 14 people.
“Is that trip to Starbucks or getting into work five minutes early really that important where you are willing to risk someone’s precious dreams?" Story said.
This 12-year veteran behind the wheel said he has seen his fair share of close calls. One of those incidents involves a little girl trying to cross the street.
“The child looked at me to get the OK to go across, and a car ran the light and almost hit the child in the lane," Story said.
Within the past few months there have been several bus accidents in the area. In Chesterfield, a bus driver went off the main road and into a ditch. On Monday, a car collided into the back of a Dinwiddie County School bus sending five students to the hospital. Then on Tuesday, a dump truck collided with a bus in Lunenburg County, causing it to overturn and injure six children, with one seriously injured.
“The bus has turned it’s lights on, gave plenty of notices, activated all the lights. Did everything right. You have a driver that’s just not paying attention," Story said.
Story said there’s training to help prevent all kinds of situations.
“Our drivers would practice running off the road and then practice getting it back on the road," Story said.
His message is to drive like you care.
“That could be your child crossing the street. Are you willing to put your child in that risk?” Story asked.
AAA offered several tips on staying safe, check them out below:
While Waiting at the Bus Stop
- Have children wait in a location where the bus driver can easily see them while driving down the street.
- Do not let children play in or near the street. Playing with balls or other toys that could roll into the street is also dangerous.
- Stand at least three giant steps (6 feet) away from the edge of the curb.
- Children should be reminded to obey the AAA School Safety Patrol, crossing guard, officer or supervising adult, if present.
Getting On and Off the Bus
- Children should wait until the bus comes to a complete stop, the door opens, and the driver indicates that it is okay before approaching the bus door to get onto or off the bus. Your child should use the handrails to avoid falling.
- Warn children that if they drop something getting on and off the bus, they should never attempt to pick it up. Instead, they should tell the driver and follow the driver’s instructions.
- Remind children to stop at the edge of the bus and look left and right before crossing.
- Your child should never walk behind a school bus. If your child must cross the street in front of the bus, tell him/her to walk on a sidewalk or along the side of the street to a place at least five giant steps (10 feet) in front of the bus before crossing. Your child should also make eye contact with the bus driver before crossing to make sure the driver can see him/her.
- If you meet your child at the bus stop after school, wait on the side where the child will be dropped off, not across the street. Children can be so excited to see you after school that they dash across the street and forget the safety rules.
- Slow down. Watch for children walking to and from the bus stop, as well as standing at the bus stop. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if the neighborhood has no sidewalks.
- Be mindful when backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage. Watch for children walking or bicycling to school.
- Never try to pass a bus as it slows and prepares to stop.
- Flashing lights indicate that a bus is either slowing to or has stopped to load or unload children. Stop your car and wait for the bus lights to stop flashing before moving your vehicle.