No injuries as school bus collides with car
Fourth crash in last 9 school days involving Carroll Co. vehicles
A vehicle tried to pass a Carroll County Public Schools bus and was struck as the bus made a routine three-point turn in Marriottsville Monday morning, according to school officials.
A vehicle attempting to pass a school bus was struck Monday morning as the bus made a three-point turn on a dead-end road in Marriottsville, according to school officials.
No one was injured in the collision in the 7600 block of Ridge Road, according to the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office received the call for the accident at 7:01 a.m., said spokesman Jonathan Light.
Bus 132 backed into a Toyota sedan that was trying to drive around it, striking the rear passenger side of the car, according to Carroll County Public Schools’ transportation officials.
“The car was moving to try and squeeze around the bus,” said John O’Meally, area supervisor for the school system’s transportation services.
The vehicle, which was leaking fluid after the crash, was towed, while the bus was “barely scratched,” O’Meally said.
Two students were aboard the bus heading for Liberty High School, said Brenda Bowers, a spokeswoman for Carroll County Public Schools. The bus continued its route after the incident, she said.
Mike Hardesty, the school system’s transportation director, said the bus was at a stop, making a routine three-point turn necessary to exit the dead-end road.
“Every morning it does the same thing,” Hardesty said.
The bus driver was tested for controlled substances, which is standard practice, Hardesty added.
No citations are expected to be issued, Light said.
Over the past nine school days there have been at least four collisions involving Carroll County school buses, adding to a tally of what is now 34 accidents so far this school year, O’Meally said.
One bus rear-ended another Wednesday in Woodbine after an unexpected snow squall swept through the county. Three students suffered minor injuries and one 16-year-old boy was taken to Carroll Hospital by ambulance with a head injury.
Two crashes occurred Dec. 20. In the morning, a bus transporting special-needs students hit a guardrail in Finksburg and no injuries were reported. Later that day, two adults and one child were taken to the hospital after a U-Haul truck and school bus collided in Hampstead.
Less than halfway through the school year, the number of bus accidents in the county is trending slightly higher than the year before. An “accident” is defined as anything striking the bus or when the bus strikes something, Hardesty said. This includes moving vehicles and stationary objects such as a guardrail.
Carroll County school buses were in 63 accidents in the year ended in June 2019, 72 in 2018, and 85 in 2017, Hardesty said. Of the accidents in 2019, 39 were determined to be preventable — a decrease from 50 in 2018 and 58 in 2017, Hardesty said.
Five of this year’s accidents are considered major by the school district, which means there was property damage higher than $3,000 or personal injury, O’Meally and Hardesty said. There were eight major accidents that could have been prevented in 2019, Hardesty said.
Charles County Public Schools, which has a comparable number of students, has logged 26 bus accidents this school year and 63 during the 2018 to 2019 school year, said Shelley Mackey, a Charles County schools spokeswoman.
In Carroll County Public Schools, the accident review committee determines whether an accident was preventable. Its members include a Sheriff’s Office deputy, a driver’s instructor, a bus contractor or driver, the risk manager from human resources, and O’Meally, who serves as chair, according to Hardesty. The driver involved in an accident also is brought in for the review process, Hardesty said.
The committee is aided in its investigation by new front-facing cameras that show the driver’s perspective, Hardesty said. These cameras were installed on all of the county school buses by the end of October, he said.
Hardesty could not point to a reason behind the recent spike in bus crashes over the last nine school days.
“That’s the way sometimes these go,” he said.
While the goal is always to have zero bus accidents, Hardesty hopes the total number of crashes this year continues to follow the downward trend of the previous three years.
“We do have a very good training program,” Hardesty said.
And if a driver is involved in a preventable crash, they undergo additional training.