AUSTIN (KXAN) — The number of school bus crashes is up 18 percent through the first two months of the school year compared to last year, according to data from the Austin Independent School District.
In August and September of this school year, there were 39 incidents with AISD buses, 17 of which AISD believes could have been prevented. A preventable incident is one that was the bus driver’s fault. None of the crashes were considered major.
In August and September of 2016, there were 33 incidents, 10 of which were preventable.
AISD Executive Director of Transportation Kris Hafezizadeh said the situation is frustrating.
“One accident is too many, right?” Hafezizadeh said. “We don’t want that, especially when you have kids on board. Can I guarantee to the public and to the parents we will not have an accident? I’m not going to do that — that’s impossible.”
The district records incident data with a wider criteria than the state. Only crashes and incidents where a driver is cited are recorded in the state database, according to the district. AISD records all incidents, regardless of severity.
“Clipping the car or a parked car, or a car rear ending a school bus … which is very puzzling,” Hafezizadeh said. “How do we not see a school bus?”
Hafezizadeh said the district does go over its training again with any driver involved in a crash, but it also needs the public’s help. The number of drivers ticketed for driving around stopped school buses is also on the rise.
The district has used stop arm cameras to catch and ticket violators. The hope was that the cameras would act as a deterrent.
“The number of citations actually have increased, but the number of second time offenders, violators, has decreased,” Hafezizadeh said.
“When we have a bus, we have about 60 [students] in there,” he said. “So just help us to keep them safe.”