Friday, October 26, 2018

Updated: Investigative Report: School Bus Drivers Endangering Children by Driving Into Floodwaters

It Has Happened Again!
This Time It Was a School Bus Near Austin, Texas, 
Trapped and Carried Downstream in Floodwaters
The dashcam video is below.
Note the bright yellow sign at right between the gate and the utility pole. It is a flood warning sign.

Another school bus, with a student and driver on board, has been carried downstream in rapidly flowing floodwaters. They had to be rescued. The driver was arrested.

In this case, the dashcam video reveals the driver went around a warning sign (arrow).
The original investigative report was posted the October 21st. I was unaware this had occurred. We are averaging more than one school bus flooding incident per week since Labor Day. It has to stop before someone is killed.

--- Original Report Below ---

We are less than two months into the 2018-19 school year and I have noticed something that should concern parents and society as a whole:
At least once a week, a school bus has become 
trapped in floodwaters.
Raytown (MO) school bus. "Kansas City Star" photo.
In each of these cases, there were children on the bus. The list:
  • Mount Joy, Penn. 9/1
  • New Castle, Del.  9/10 
  • Dobbinsville, Del. 9/10
  • Hillsborough, NC  9/17
  • Stamford, Conn. 9/25
  • Raytown, Mo.    10/8
  • Wichita, Kans.     10/9
  • Austin, Tex.  10/17  (added to list)
In every case, the children and drivers had to be rescued. In some cases, they were called "close calls" with regard to injuries. There may also be cases unknown to the media where a bus narrowly made it out of flooding without becoming trapped.

Just four years ago, we had an extremely serious situation near Wichita where the bus was overturned and carried downstream (below) by the swift current.
KAKE TV
The 2014 case was a complicated rescue. Emergency management had to rig a system of ropes to get to the children and driver and get them safely off the bus. Still, there was one injury.
The bus driver in this case was fired.

If this continues, eventually someone is going to drown. 

The number of cases suggests they are not isolated occurrences. In fact, there were at least two examples the end of the 2017-18 school year, one in May and one in June.

It is hard to understand why these are occurring. We know, in the United States, 76% of flood deaths are associated with automobiles. Thus, the "turn around, don't drown" campaign of the National Weather Service. It seems simplistic to think bus drivers are uniquely filtering out that message. It is possible that because school buses ride higher than ordinary autos the drivers believe they can make it safely through floodwaters.
There is the possibility bus drivers are put under sufficient pressure to make schedules that it causes them to toss good judgment aside and attempt to make it through flooding in spite of the fact the drivers involved in many of these instances have been fired. Regardless, this practice is so dangerous it must stop immediately.

Time for action.

School districts and school bus companies must stress to drivers they should never enter floodwaters. Never. Ever. If there is some question, local authorities (fire or police) should be called before the bus proceeds or seeks an alternative route. Many school districts use commercial meteorologists. They can be consulted in flood situations. There may be other solutions beyond these.

School bus drivers cannot continue to risk their lives and the lives of children in their charge. 

(c) 2018 Mike Smith Enterprises, LLC. All rights reserved.

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