Sarasota bus crashes could hit all time high

Retired special needs teacher talks bus safety
Posted at 4:08 AM, Apr 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-12 07:45:53-04

A school bus crash in Sarasota injured several people Tuesday morning.

The bus was carrying several special needs kids and many of them were taken to local hospitals. The bus driver and aide were also taken. The driver of the car involved is expected to be okay, too. Officials say the crash could have been much worse.

RELATED: 7 students, 4 adults injured in Sarasota school bus crash

The front of the bus smashed in which exposed the engine, causing fuel to leak into the road. A traffic light was ripped off a pole and thrown onto the roof.

Dan Donohue, a retired special needs teacher who worked in Pinellas County says these buses are generally safe for kids in wheel chairs.

Typically there are normal seats on the front of the bus with seat belts but as you make your way to the middle and back of the bus you'll start seeing openings where there are straps and handles for wheelchairs.

"They're strapped to the floor and strapped to the wall, so it's very, very rigid. It's not going to tip over," said Donohue. "Now if the bus tips over, the student will never fall out of the chair if they are properly hooked up in place."

If the bus were to enter water or catch fire, Donohue believes those straps could be extremely dangerous.

"It's a matter of seconds that they would need to get to those students in order to save them," said Donohue.

But for kids in wheelchairs that may not be possible. He says it takes about two to fifteen minutes to get them out of the bus. In an emergency that could be deadly.

School bus crashes in Sarasota county are getting worse - increasing steadily each year. In 2017, a bus crash occurred on average every 21 days.

In 2016, the county saw 43 crashes. If the trend this year continues, that number could jump to 54 crashes. That is why officials say drivers need to use caution around buses.

In February, ABC Action News anchor Paul Lagrone uncovered some of the biggest trends for school bus accidents in the state. Tuesday and Wednesday are the worst days and April and October are the worst months. Click here for all the stats.