CMS speaks about bus safety after 2 crashes in 2 days

Parents are demanding to know who's driving their children and what's being done to keep them safe after two CMS bus crashes in as many days.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Two Charlotte-Mecklenburg school buses have crashed in a span of two days, leaving dozens of students recovering.

On Wednesday, CMS transportation officials spoke to NBC Charlotte wanting to make it clear that keeping students safe is their top priority.

"We send our drivers through extended training," said Kristi Harden, CMS transportation operations director. "Parents should feel comfortable and safe with our drivers."

Kristi Harden says their bus drivers are required to complete classroom and on the road training before they’re allowed to transport children. She says candidates can go from filling out an application to working behind the wheel in about six weeks.

But some wondering now if that’s enough after two crashes in two days.

Tuesday afternoon, a CMS school bus filled with middle school students veered off the road, sending one child to the hospital.

And the next day, another bus crashed, carrying 37 high school students; six of those teens were rushed to the hospital.

Thankfully, all of the injuries were minor.

"If one of our drivers is involved in an accident, we do have in-house procedures that does include drug testing and remedial training," Harden explained.

Last year, CMS reported 353 school bus accidents. The year before, 410.

Many were minor and several were at the faults of other drivers.

"At the end of the day, we want students to be safe," Harden said. "And we all play a role in that."

Meaning: that includes you.

"Increase your following distance," Harden explained, "and recognize there are kids are out there. Stop for buses. There are certain areas where a child might not be able to see you coming."

Some wonder if it's time to consider installing seatbelts in school buses. But the NHTSA estimates that would cost $12,000 per bus-- or a price tag of about $12 million for CMS alone.

The district also still desperately needs drivers. As of Wednesday, they still had close to 80 positions to fill.

You can learn more about applying to be a driver here.

You can learn more about school bus safety laws as they apply to you, the citizen, by clicking here.

Copyright 2016 WCNC


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