School Bus Safety On the Minds of Mainers After Recent Crashes

According to MaineDOT statistics, Maine had 90 crashes involving school buses in 2022

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Three school buses have been involved in crashes in Maine over the past week.

This follows other incidents involving school buses in the state in 2022, including drivers suffering medical events while behind the wheel, a student being caught in bus doors and dragged, and a parent who was allegedly struck by the open doors of a school bus when a driver pulled away.

As far as crashes involving school buses in the state are concerned, Maine is not at or near its peak when looking at the last five years of crash data.

According to MaineDOT statistics, Maine had 128 crashes involving school buses in 2019.

So far this year, there have been 90 such crashes, with less than two months of 2022 remaining.

"I’m thinking, have our drivers been trained to deal with these types of incidents, and are we defensive drivers?" said Lisa Gadway, who is both president of the Maine Association for Pupil Transportation and transportation director for Maine School Administrative District 75 (MSAD 75), which includes Topsham.

Gadway explained that whenever a series of crashes happens like the one over the past week, she thinks of ways drivers might be able to better anticipate something unexpected happening, not because that driver did something wrong but because all kinds of incidents can occur on the road at any time.

"You can never predict when an accident is going to happen," she said.

Gadway also noted that some consideration from everyone who is behind the wheel can go a long way toward ensuring safety for anyone in any vehicle.

"Be mindful that there are children around; children are unpredictable, and don’t be in a hurry," she said, adding that people should "be patient with a school bus; they are transporting very precious cargo."

Gadway also said that she was hopeful that new technology might also deter someone from driving past a school bus that has its lights on and sign out while dropping off a student.

The newer buses that her district has received over the past two to three years have as many as six cameras on them, both inside and out, to help the district identify vehicles that violate school bus safety laws.

Additional buses that the district expects to take delivery of in the coming year may be equipped with as many as eight cameras each.

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