In light of several recent local school bus accidents KCBD NewsChannel 11 decided to see how many bus accidents there have been for the three school districts in Lubbock.
We found that in 2007 a law was passed where each school district in Texas is required to report how many bus accidents they have each school year. That information is posted on the Texas Education Agency web site. Gathering all the reports for Lubbock ISD, Lubbock Cooper ISD, and Frenship ISD we found there were 89 school bus accidents in the last five years involving 863 students.
We also found that Lubbock ISD is listed as not submitting a report for last year as the law requires. When we contacted LISD and Durham Transportation who supplies their bus drivers, they were not even aware that their report was missing.
"I can't explain why it's not showing right now, but the information was sent in and we're communicating with the TEA to get that resolved," Durham safety and training supervisor Jolie Haines said.
Haines provided KCBD with a copy of the 2011 -2012 school year report she says was submitted to complete our look at the last five years for each school district.
Out of the 89 school bus accidents reported, LISD had 43 accidents involving 402 students with 17 of those having minor injuries. Frenship reported 37 accidents with 398 students and only four minor injuries, and Lubbock Cooper only had nine accidents in five years involving 63 students and no injuries reported.
John Baker, the director of operations at Lubbock Cooper, says the reason their number of accidents is so low compared to the other two districts is because they only have 28 buses running on a daily basis with routes that have very low traffic. "We don't travel major thoroughfares the other districts travel," Baker said. "The majority of our accidents were fender benders, with some happening right in our school parking lot."
Unlike Lubbock Cooper, Lubbock ISD has more than 150 buses running each day and Frenship has 45 buses with daily routes. Both of those school districts use Durham who says no matter how small the accident is, it is reported, which is the reason accident numbers are so high.
"Within our company we consider an accident to be anything our vehicle comes in contact with that results in damage worth one dollar or more," Wolfforth Durham Transportation general manager Randi Bullard said. "A lot of those accidents that were reported we were doing what we were supposed to be doing and someone hit us."
It turns out well over half of the 89 accidents in Lubbock were not caused by the bus drivers, but by other drivers not paying attention. LISD says 79% of the accidents were not their fault, and Frenship says 16 of theirs were also caused by other drivers.
"The numbers are deceiving because a lot of them were not preventable accidents. There was nothing our drivers could do to prevent them. The positive thing is we did not have very many students injured, and the injuries that did happen are extremely minor with no medical treatment needed," Haines said. "So they are safe riding the bus."
As far LISD showing they did not submit a report last year like the law requires, when we talked to a TEA representative KCBD was told there is no penalty for districts who fail to report their accidents. LISD officials say they are currently working to fix the problem so their report appears online.
To check out Lubbock's school districts accident reports, as well as other surrounding towns in the South Plains, you can (click here.) That web site also has complete lists of those districts who failed to report their accidents.
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