NTSB uses SLC bus crash for future bus safety rules

Recommending new seatbelt handouts be created

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. - It was a tragedy on the Treasure Coast that ended in the death of a young boy on a St. Lucie County school bus.

Now lessons from that crash are being shared in Washington.

Truck driver Robert Scott was right behind a sod truck that crashed into a St. Lucie County school bus at the intersection of Midway and Okeechobee Roads back in March of 2012.

"I heard screaming from the bus I went running over to the bus. My first instinct was just to get on there, help the kids get off, maybe calm the situation," said Scott.

9 year-old Aaron Beauchamp died in the crash. He was wearing his seatbelt, but NTSB investigators determined that there was a "loss of integrity of the seating system" that likely contributed to the fatal injuries.

In Washington Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board was using the St. Lucie County crash as a guide as it discussed a similar bus crash that happened the month prior in New Jersey.

Investigators used the video recordings on board the St. Lucie County bus and determined that buses are great in front and rear end crashes, especially when seatbelts are used properly, but not as good in side impacts.

"During our investigation over many many years, we have found that school buses are very safe. Children are only at risk if the school bus is hit by something very large like a train, or in these cases we're talking about, large trucks, heavily loaded large trucks," said NTSB Engineer Dr. Kristin Poland.

The NTSB made 12 new safety recommendations Tuesday.

Among them, having the six states, including Florida, that have seat belts on buses, create a new handout for school districts to give each year to students and parents on the importance of using seatbelts and their proper use.

Another recommendation from the NTSB is to NHTSA, the National Highway Transportation Administration, to develop Connected Vehicle Technology for all vehicles where your position on the road and your speed would be transmitted to other vehicles to help prevent intersection crashes.

The St. Lucie County School District released a statement today that said, "St. Lucie School District staff reviewed the just-released findings of the National Transportation Safety Board report on accidents involving fatalities in school bus accidents in the last several years.  While no report nor investigation can change history, the NTSB review is forward-thinking and St. Lucie, as certainly other school districts nationwide, will carefully review the suggestions to further ensure the utmost safety in transporting children."

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