Three school bus accidents prompt requests for all drivers to be cautious

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Three days in a row, there have been back-to-back school bus accidents in south Mississippi. On Monday, a Harrison County school bus hit a power pole. Tuesday's wreck involved a Jackson County school bus. The latest crash happened Wednesday morning in Ocean Springs. The accidents serve as a wake-up call for all drivers.

"Evidently she hit this side of the bus and pushed this back almost to the wheel, and we had to pull it back out," John Rushing explained as he pointed to the dents and scratches on the front bumper of a bus.

Rushing is the head mechanic for the Ocean Springs School District. He was repairing bus #11 after it was involved in an accident Wednesday morning.

"This thing actually comes out. It's not working now. I have to put a new one on it," said Rushing, as he showed the motorized crossing arm.

The bus was transporting 43 Ocean Springs Middle School and Ocean Springs High School students to school.  Police say a pick-up truck pulling a trailer on Government Street suddenly stopped in front of the bus. The driver of the bus couldn't stop in time, so it ran into the trailer.

"No report of injuries. We sent another bus out to the scene and safely got the kids off involved in the accident," said Brooks McKay, Ocean Springs School District Director of Operations. "We don't have that many bus accidents. But anytime there's any bus accident, we try to learn from it the best we can and share it with our drivers."

Transportation officials are asking all drivers to be extra cautious in light of back-to-back school bus accidents this week. On Monday, 12 students suffered minor injuries when a Harrison County school bus was struck by a car, then it hit a power pole. On Tuesday, a bus from Vancleave Upper Elementary was rear-ended by a vehicle.

One rule to remember is drivers should always be prepared to put on the brakes.

"Buses have to stop at all railroad crossings. Buses cannot turn right on red, so expect that," said McKay. "Anytime you see a bus, sooner or later it's going to stop, whether to pick up kids or drop off kids."

Also, watch out for the little ones who may be chasing a bus, and give buses plenty of room to turn at tight intersections.

"Because it's hard to drive those big buses. And when a car pulls all the way up to an intersection and a bus pulls all the way up, sometimes it's hard to make that turn," said McKay.

Remember, when a bus stops on a two-lane road, traffic in all directions must also come to a halt. It's recommended that you follow about 100-feet behind a school bus.

"Just be courteous with our buses. Understand it takes a little time. Just be patient with our buses, and we'll get them in and out of there as soon as we can," said McKay.

National Bus Safety Week is coming up October 21-25. The Ocean Springs School District is planning a series of events, including a poster contest, to promote bus safety.

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