Channel 3 News investigates where school bus crashes happen and why
On August 2015, cameras were rolling inside an Escambia school bus when nearly two dozen students were injured in a crash.
The bus was driving along Pace Boulevard when a dump truck comes along and its brakes failed. The driver of the truck blows a red light, slamming his vehicle into the bus. Students inside the bus are thrown out of their seats and it is captured on surveillance. The bus laid on its side, while students were wheeled off into ambulances. There were16 students hurt that day.
"That's by far the worst school bus accident I've been a participant to," Rob Doss said.
It is a crash Doss hopes to never see a repeat of. He is the transportation director for the Escambia County School District. Doss said he uses the incident now as a prime example during defensive driving training.
"It reinforces the importance of not assuming that everybody that comes down the road is going to do what they're supposed to do," Doss said.
That does not always happen.
According to data provided by the Florida Highway Patrol, there were 77 crashes involving school buses in the three Northwest Florida counties last year. Channel 3 News investigated where they were happening and why.
Most crashes involving school buses happen in populated areas, simply because there are more people on the road.
"Most of those main thoroughfares are very congested during the morning hours, rush hours, getting kids back and forth to school," Lieutenant Eddie Elmore said.
In Escambia County, six of the 33 crashes involving school buses in 2017 happened on the stretch of Cervantes and Mobile Highway. Santa Rosa County had 16 crashes and most happened around the Pace and Milton areas. In Okaloosa County, Highway 98 and Mary Esther Cut Off made up a majority of the locations where school buses crashed.
However, bus drivers were not always to blame. In fact, Elmore said the data for all three counties show bus drivers were no more at fault than the other driver. One infraction came up more than any other - careless driving. Careless driving citations made up 50 percent of the violations. Elmore said that indicates the crashes involving buses were rear-end crashes.
"A school bus stopped on the side of the road letting our precious children out, that's a change in traffic pattern that we got to pay attention to," Elmore said.
He said that way we can all make it home safe and never have another crash like the one three years ago.