Earlier this month, two students were killed in a two-vehicle crash involving a Houston ISD school bus. According to officials, the collision caused the school bus to veer from the 610 Loop near Telephone road. The two students - a 14-year-old and a 17-year-old - are the first students to be killed in a public school bus accident in Texas since 2008, statistics show. Two other students suffered serious injuries in the crash.
In the wake of the accident, many parents and officials across the state have called attention to the fact that school busses are often not equipped with seat belts. As an innovation that saves lives in countless car accidents, seat belts have still not become commonplace - let alone mandated - in public school busses.
In an effort to find data that can help officials address the issue, the Houston Independent School District announced last week that publicly reported statistics regarding school bus incidents and crashes may be misleading. Here’s why:
- Despite a 2007 law requiring school districts to compile annual reports on school bus accidents, roughly 16% of the school districts - or close to 200 - did not submit the data for the most recent report covering the 2013-2014 school year.
- In addition to missing information, officials noted that some of the reported numbers regarding bus accidents do not add up.
- Part of the problem, officials suspects, stems from school districts interpreting requirements differently. For example, some report information about all accidents involving school busses, while others only report incidents resulting in citations.
The biggest problem posed by the inaccurate data is that it makes it increasingly difficult for lawmakers to agree on the issues and create the regulations needed to improve safety. With better data about school bus accidents - including accidents involving buses fitted with seat belts - more can be done about creating and implementing changes.