Federal officials said this week that a lack of driver oversight contributed to the November 2016 bus crash that left six Chattanooga children dead.
The National Transportation Safety Board also recommended that all new school buses be required to have seat belts and suggested they also have electronic stability control, which is a computerized technology used to detect and reduce skidding.
The findings are the result of a special investigation that stemmed, in part, from the Nov. 21, 2016 Woodmore bus crash. A Baltimore City school bus crash also prompted the investigation.
According to the NTSB:
The report cites the overall safety of school buses yet notes a similarity in the two fatal accidents investigated. The lack of driver oversight which was found to be causal in both accidents.
The NTSB found this lack of oversight by not only the school districts in Baltimore and Chattanooga, but also by the motor carriers under contract to the school districts to provide student transportation, which employed the drivers in the two crashes.
In both cases, school bus drivers continued to operate school buses unsafely, with no remedial action taken, even when driver safety issues were known.
The Woodmore crash prompted multiple lawsuits and accusations that both Hamilton County School officials and leaders of Durham School Services—which employed the driver of the Woodmore bus, Johnthony Walker—didn’t do enough in response to complaints about Walker’s driving.
A judge recently sentenced Walker to four years in prison.