BUS-TED: TENNESSEE'S BROKEN BUS SAFETY SYSTEM

BUS

TED

Tennessee’s Broken Bus Safety System

BUSTED

Tennessee’s Broken Bus Safety System

BUSTED

Tennessee’s Broken Bus Safety System

Speeding Bus Image

“Tennessee simply cannot afford inaction.” — Source: 2014 TN Strategic Highway Safety Plan.

Following the 2016 deadly school bus crash in Chattanooga, questions are being raised on state and federal levels about whether safety policies and regulations are effective enough or if they need an overhaul.

Are the federal government and the state of Tennessee doing enough?

Question 1 Image

What are the federal requirements for school bus drivers?

Question 2 Image

What are Tennessee’s requirements for school bus drivers?

Question 3 Image

What are Tennessee’s safety requirements for school buses?

Questions Parents Are Asking:

School buses are generally considered among the safest vehicles on the road.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a student is 50 times likelier to arrive alive by riding the bus as compared to going by car. Most school bus injuries and fatalities happen not in collisions, but rather they involve students getting on and off the bus. Despite a good overall safety record, on average six students are killed in school bus accidents each year. In 2016, that death toll was reached in a single crash in Chattanooga. In addition to teaching children bus safety, parents can help ensure their children’s wellbeing by pressuring lawmakers and regulators to adopt stricter driver screening and more safety features on buses, particularly the addition of seat belts.

If you believe your child’s bus is unsafe or the driver is operating it unsafely, you can report your concerns to the public transportation trooper assigned to your region of the state.

The contact information is listed at the bottom of the webpage for the Tennessee Highway Patrol - Pupil Transportation. You can also fill out the complaint form at the bottom of this page.
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If your child is hurt while riding or entering or exiting a school bus, you may be entitled to bring a personal injury claim against the school district or the contractor that operates the bus.

If someone other than the bus driver, school district or contractor was responsible for the crash, you may be able to bring a claim against the at-fault party and their insurer. Since these cases are often quite complex, it is best to seek advice from an experienced personal injury attorney in Tennessee.

Tennessee-Specific
Questions about Policy

Since the tragic fatal bus crash in Chattanooga last year, some Tennessee lawmakers have proposed steps to prevent another catastrophe.


Proposals:

  • To increase the minimum age for bus drivers from 21 to 25. (The driver in the Chattanooga crash was only 24.) This proposal would also require drivers to get a special certification.
  • Ban drivers who had committed a serious driving infraction in the three previous years. The safety of the buses, rather than the drivers, is the focus of a separate proposal that would require school buses to have seat belts.

While seat belts have been required in passenger cars since 1968, and Tennessee has had a seat belt law since 1996, most school buses in the state lack the basic safety equipment.


It may seem strange that children – the youngest of whom must use booster seats and other more invasive safety equipment in mom and dad’s minivan – are free to ride unrestrained on the school bus. Some states have already passed laws requiring safety belts in school buses, including Florida, Louisiana, Texas, California, New York and New Jersey.


Other states, including Tennessee, are considering requirements, particularly in the aftermath of the Chattanooga crash.

The driver in the deadly Chattanooga bus crash was only 24 at the time.


Some safety advocates, parents and lawmakers think that’s too young. Proposed legislation would increase the minimum age for school bus drivers in Tennessee from 21 to 25.

Tennessee's Strategic Highway
Safety Plan

Each state has to develop a Strategic Highway Safety Plan. Here is Tennessee's most recent plan. Some significant items on this plan are:

The Vision

The Plan adopts a “Toward Zero Deaths” vision statement, which is the vision of a national and collaborative effort entitled Toward Zero Deaths: National Strategy on Highway Safety. The strategy intends to create a culture of safety by bringing stakeholders together to assess the current safety environment and to develop safety strategies from a data-driven process that is refined, implemented, and evaluated to continually plan for a safer future on our roadways.

The Goal

The goal for the Plan is to reduce the number and rate of fatalities by 10% within the next five-years while reducing the trend of increasing serious injuries by remaining under the 2012 serious injury total of 7,574.

Success Metrics

The Plan’s success will be measured by a statistical comparison of actual data to the Plan’s goal statement. This goal is deemed to be appropriate and worthy of our effort to make the roads of Tennessee as safe as they can be. “Driving Down Fatalities” is the slogan for the 2014 Plan because it conveys our commitment to achieving this goal and is consistent with the “Toward Zero Deaths” vision.

File A Complaint

Have your children told you their bus driver is unsafe? Have you seen a school bus moving recklessly through traffic? Don’t remain silent and hope the behavior improves. Fill out the form below to report an unsafe bus driver.

* Required Field

Thank you for making the road a bit safer!

If you need to get in touch with your district, here is their contact info:

District 1 - Knoxville

Trooper Dale Cole
865-368-5713
Email Trooper Cole

Trooper Chris Jarnigan
865-206-6251
Email Trooper Jarnigan

Trooper John Pedigo
865-202-6164
Email Trooper Pedigo

You can find information on the other districts in Tennessee here.

Thank you for making the road a bit safer!

If you need to get in touch with your district, here is their contact info:

District 2 - Chattanooga

Trooper Chuck Melhorn
423-309-3120
Email Trooper Melhorn

Trooper Wade Clepper
423-208-5357
Email Trooper Clepper

You can find information on the other districts in Tennessee here.

Thank you for making the road a bit safer!

If you need to get in touch with your district, here is their contact info:

District 3 - Nashville

Trooper Joe Smith
615-804-8598
Email Trooper Smith

Trooper Dana Vann
615-815-6587
Email Trooper Vann

Trooper Rick Vien
615-815-6506
Email Trooper Vien

You can find information on the other districts in Tennessee here.

Thank you for making the road a bit safer!

If you need to get in touch with your district, here is their contact info:

District 4 - Memphis

Trooper Rodney Shaw
615-815-6514
Email Trooper Shaw

Trooper J.V. Johnson
901-201-8186
Email Trooper Johnson

Trooper Kerry Northcott
731-697-2317
Email Trooper Northcott

You can find information on the other districts in Tennessee here.

Thank you for making the road a bit safer!

If you need to get in touch with your district, here is their contact info:

District 5 - Fall Branch

Vernon Thomas
423-612-1168
Email Vernon Thomas

Trooper Robert Wills
615-815-6662
Email Trooper Wills

You can find information on the other districts in Tennessee here.

Thank you for making the road a bit safer!

If you need to get in touch with your district, here is their contact info:

District 6 - Cookeville

Trooper Craig Wilkerson
615-854-6809
Email Trooper Wilkerson

Trooper Darryl Winningham
931-239-3597
Email Trooper Winningham

You can find information on the other districts in Tennessee here.

Thank you for making the road a bit safer!

If you need to get in touch with your district, here is their contact info:

District 7 - Lawrenceburg

Sgt. Jason Kelley
931-797-8908
Email Sgt. Kelley

Trooper Chris Hannah
931-279-0312
Email Trooper Hannah

You can find information on the other districts in Tennessee here.

Thank you for making the road a bit safer!

If you need to get in touch with your district, here is their contact info:

District 8 - Jackson

L.D. Sims
731-225-3444
Email L.D. Sims

Trooper Thomas Prather
731-431-2928
Email Trooper Prather

You can find information on the other districts in Tennessee here.

Petition

The time is ripe for lawmakers to address school bus safety. Unfortunately, it often takes a tragedy to spur change, but the catastrophe in Chattanooga has opened the door to improving safe transportation for our children as they come and go from school each day.


You can help send a message to regulators and lawmakers in Nashville and Washington. Let them know that you demand stronger protections for the precious cargo that travels in yellow buses. Add your name to the petition below to show your support increased school bus safety in Tennessee and across the United States.


Sign The Petition

Tennessee Safety Initiatives

Sources:

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