Drivers pose danger to Alabama school buses - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Drivers pose danger to Alabama school buses

(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)

As students return to school, safety is top of mind. The first students to board buses and head back to the classroom will be in Elmore County.

Statistics from the Alabama Department of Education reports school buses were involved in 272 collisions between 2012 and 2013. The collisions injured seven students, one bus driver and 10 others. But those numbers pale in comparison to the volume of drivers illegally passing school buses where students are loading or unloading.

Joe Lightsey, Director of Pupil Transport for the Alabama Department of Education, says 1,713 drivers illegally passed school buses during a one-day study during the last school year. If those numbers were extrapolated to match the fall and spring semesters, it would pass 300,000.

"Each one of those represents a child that could be killed or injured," Lightsey said.

There's no question, loading and unloading students is the most dangerous part of any bus ride. ALDE reports show statistics from the department it's been 14 years since a bus-related fatality has been reported in the tri-county area, and it's up to drivers to keep that fatal statistic down.

"Visualize your own children or grandchildren are on that bus, and I think it helps us to be much more aware of safety around school buses," Lightsey said.

In 2006 the state bolstered the fines penalties associated with passing a school bus illegally. If the lights are red and the stop sign is out, Lightsey outlines what you can expect, "The minimum fine for illegally passing a school bus is $150, and that could go up to $500. On the 4th offense it is a class C felony."

Since 1998, nine students have been killed while loading and unloading. The last student killed by a driver illegally passing a school bus was in Mobile in 2005.

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