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With Henry County school bus crashes on the rise, how safe are students on board?




HENRY COUNTY, VA – This school year, Henry County Public School buses have been involved in five crashes.


Some may question the safety of students riding in those buses.


What does the research show?


Students are about 70 times more likely to get to school safely if they take the bus instead of traveling by car, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


School buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road with protective seating, high crash standards and rollover protection features.


They are designed to be highly visible and have safety features such as flashing red lights, cross-view mirrors and stop-sign arms.


In Henry County, Director of Communications Monica Hatchett says buses are also equipped with cameras and will soon have new routing systems.


“It will help ensure that our students are picked up and dropped off in an efficient matter. It helps us to check which students are on the bus and which students maybe we need to call and see if they are absent or they’ve changed their transportation for the day,” she said.


Hatchett says this will also help substitute drivers.


As we take a look back at the crashes, note that for four of them, we understand that the bus driver was not at fault. For the last one and most recent, it remains under investigation.


On November 8, bus 86 was sideswiped by a Dodge Ram along Appalachian Drive injuring three students and the bus driver.


Bus 53 was also sideswiped. This time by a Toyota Avalon on William F. Stone Highway on November 9. No one was hurt.


Bus 54 was traveling on River Road when a Ram pickup truck turned in front of it. This happened on November 12.


On January 14, a car crashed into bus 144 on Memorial Boulevard South in Martinsville. No injuries were reported.


Bus 145 pulled out of a driveway making a left turn onto Preston Road and was hit by a Kia Optima. The driver of the Kia died at the scene.


Hatchett adds that following each accident their debrief team and crisis team have met to look at all of the factors and consulted with law enforcement.


“It has been determined this year that none of the accidents involving our buses were the fault of the bus driver, however, that doesn’t mean that we don’t continue to look at ways that we can do better and make sure that our students are even safer than they were the day before,” Hatchett stated.


In conclusion, officials remind you to always be cautious when driving especially when there is a big, yellow school bus on the road.

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