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Special Report: School Bus Crashes Rising Across the Bay Area

Accidents Statewide Went Up Every Year since 2012
Posted: 11:29 PM, Feb 13, 2017
Updated: 2017-02-14 06:11:11-05

In the Tampa Bay area,  there's an average of 486 school bus accidents a year, 302 injuries, 2 deaths, and the crashes are increasing nearly every year.

"Stop! I mean, doing this for years and it drives me crazy when you ask a driver, the lights were lit up and they will say, well i didn't see the bus...no explanation," Said Jim Beekman, General manager of Transportation for Hillsborough District Schools.

Big Yellow is a big target in Tampa Bay.

"People are in a hurry no one wants to get around a school bus," said Beekman.

We compiled five years worth of crash data directly involving school buses and in Hillsborough County school bus accidents have gone up by a net of 15 percent.

In Pasco, school bus accidents have increased by a net gain of 65 percent, when you account for the last five years.

In Polk County, the five year trend is up 27 percent.

The only county to see a decrease was Pinellas County. Accidents went down 20 percent over five years.

The message to drivers: "Slow down. Look for the busses, we are bright yellow, we light em up like Christmas trees, " said Beekman.

"It's hard to attract quality drivers when the pay is so low," said Attorney Michael Maddox, who is  now suing the Hillsborough County School District after one of it's bus drivers-- who was fired-- crashed a school bus into a pond with 27 children on board. The children escaped unhurt.

"It's about budget it's about training , it's about more transparency," said Maddox.

He said one solution is to give parents easier access to information about a bus driver's past.

"We'd like to be able to look at their driving history and decide if that's really a satisfactory driving history," said Maddox.

"My bus drivers are human, we hire human beings, we do have specific training, we go through retraining , retraining, and retraining," said Beekman.

And this isn't just a Tampa Bay trend. Statewide bus accidents have increased every single year between 2012 and 2016.