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Old 05-17-2018, 12:13 PM   #1
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NJ School Bus Crash - Body Off Frame

I just wanted to share this story with everyone. A bus was involved in a major accident so severe the bus body separated from the frame. How something like this could happen is beyond me. I feel so bad for the families of the children lost and injured.
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Old 05-17-2018, 12:39 PM   #2
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Someone mentioned on this board previously that school busses are designed to seperate from the frame in a major impact. Looks like this one did exactly that. Hope that all survived and injuries were minor.
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Old 05-17-2018, 01:54 PM   #3
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look under your bus sometime... theres not much that holds the body on the chassis.. a few little hold downs here and there.. it seems pretty easy for one to come apart like this..
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Old 05-17-2018, 06:23 PM   #4
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I've seen the pictures of that wreck, and the bus seems to have performed as designed. The passenger compartment has separated but appears to be largely intact.

This was a huge impact that scarcely seems to have been survivable in any other type of vehicle.
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Old 05-17-2018, 06:32 PM   #5
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I've seen the pictures of that wreck, and the bus seems to have performed as designed. The passenger compartment has separated but appears to be largely intact.

This was a huge impact that scarcely seems to have been survivable in any other type of vehicle.
In any other type of vehicle that you would be required by law to be wearing seat belts in. I'm surprised there aren't more injuries to students due to not having them, But I guess the large size of the bus compared to what normally would run into it, the reduced speed the bus is usually traveling contribute to the lessening of injuries. The fact that so few died in this is a blessing. The driver was one of the survivors. One student and a chaperon perished.
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Old 05-17-2018, 06:52 PM   #6
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In any other type of vehicle that you would be required by law to be wearing seat belts in. I'm surprised there aren't more injuries to students due to not having them, But I guess the large size of the bus compared to what normally would run into it, the reduced speed the bus is usually traveling contribute to the lessening of injuries. The fact that so few died in this is a blessing. The driver was one of the survivors. One student and a chaperon perished.
There is a complete lack of understanding of why school buses don't have seatbelts.

It's not like the federal government isn't aware that they exist, and the additional cost would be trivial, so it makes sense that there must be other reasons.

There are two massive safety concerns with fitting seatbelts. The first is getting 70, different sized and shaped kids to use them correctly. The second is getting 70 kids out of them so the bus can be evacuated in an accident, and there might not be an adult around to help them.

So seatbelts are problematic even if the general public thinks it crazy not to have them.

Instead the buses rely on a number of other, designed-in features, to keep kids safe.

First is the color ... it is a major security feature.

Second is the high floor ... most vehicles submarine under a bus.

The is the interior. The seats are specially designed for strength, and deliberately padded for security. They are also close together by design and the ceilings, annoying to us now, are kept low for safety.

They have designed in passenger security cells that are almost never breached in an impact, but allow easy egress following a fire or accident.

It's just a fact that, on average, only 6 kids per year die in school bus accidents in over 2 billion journeys taken. They are just that safe.

They can never be perfectly safe, some accidents just can't be survived. But I think the Feds know what they are doing, and they do not recommend seatbelts.

The buses that do get belts are often the SPED buses. They carry students who frequently benefit from being strapped in, and they carry wheelchairs that are strapped down. They also have two adults on board and far fewer passengers.
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Old 05-17-2018, 07:33 PM   #7
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There is a complete lack of understanding of why school buses don't have seatbelts.

It's not like the federal government isn't aware that they exist, and the additional cost would be trivial, so it makes sense that there must be other reasons.

There are two massive safety concerns with fitting seatbelts. The first is getting 70, different sized and shaped kids to use them correctly. The second is getting 70 kids out of them so the bus can be evacuated in an accident, and there might not be an adult around to help them.

So seatbelts are problematic even if the general public thinks it crazy not to have them.

Instead the buses rely on a number of other, designed-in features, to keep kids safe.

First is the color ... it is a major security feature.

Second is the high floor ... most vehicles submarine under a bus.

The is the interior. The seats are specially designed for strength, and deliberately padded for security. They are also close together by design and the ceilings, annoying to us now, are kept low for safety.

They have designed in passenger security cells that are almost never breached in an impact, but allow easy egress following a fire or accident.

It's just a fact that, on average, only 6 kids per year die in school bus accidents in over 2 billion journeys taken. They are just that safe.

They can never be perfectly safe, some accidents just can't be survived. But I think the Feds know what they are doing, and they do not recommend seatbelts.

The buses that do get belts are often the SPED buses. They carry students who frequently benefit from being strapped in, and they carry wheelchairs that are strapped down. They also have two adults on board and far fewer passengers.
That's what I said, just didn't want to type that much.
You certainly make it make sense.
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Old 05-17-2018, 07:52 PM   #8
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There is a complete lack of understanding of why school buses don't have seatbelts.

Thank you Twigg.

I had a vague idea why they didn't. You "filled in the blanks".
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Old 05-17-2018, 08:00 PM   #9
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That's what I said, just didn't want to type that much.
You certainly make it make sense.
It's easy to attack schools for not fitting belts, and one at least on FB post I have seen that argument today. It's almost like folk forget that school buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road.

I just like to put the argument straight where I can.

While government can cause us problems, I am very proud that our Federal government has put so much thought and care into the vehicles that carry our kids.

It's one of the reasons why I also think that you should paint your bus any color but yellow, even if the law doesn't demand it. That yellow color is a very important passive safety feature, and I hate to see it watered down.
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Old 05-17-2018, 09:01 PM   #10
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Anyone that has stripped a seat down can see some safety features. Even though kinda crappy welded the metal sheet in the middle would bend and fold some to soften a blow and the thick foam wrap protects from the metal. Dont know of all are this way but the ones in mine are. The crash kinda reminds me of model A/T crashes.
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Old 05-17-2018, 11:49 PM   #11
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I'm in NYC, so have been listening to the news reports all day today. It was a dump truck that collided with the bus. A dump truck must be a very heavy truck and so the force of the collision had to be tremendous. After the bus body came off its frame, the bus flipped over, hit a guard rail, and rested there. The truck came to a stop a few hundred yards from where they collided.

One teacher and one 5th-grader were killed, and apparently dozens suffered serious injuries and were rushed to area hospitals - they're saying that more fatalities are possible, as injuries are severe. They still aren't sure who was at fault.

The school bus was from East Brook Middle School in Paramus, NJ, and the crash happened on Rte. 80 in Mt. Olive. Three buses had embarked together on the school trip from Paramus, and the kids on the other two buses didn't find out what happened to the third bus until they got back from the trip. Some kids on the buses that made it to their destination had siblings on the bus that crashed. The community is in shock.

They're saying on the news that seatbelts on the two unscathed buses were checked before and after the trip, so I'm not sure why people are saying there were no seatbelts in the one that crashed. I haven't heard anything about that on the radio station I'm listening to.

Now they are also saying that the trucking company, Mendez Trucking based in Belleville, has a history of violations and failed inspections, and they have paid a lot of money to the Feds in fines for not testing drivers for drug and alcohol use after accidents.

The school district also apparently had to pull some buses from service back in December for various safety issues but it doesn't seem there were any problems with the buses on this trip. Survivors were rescued from the bus via its emergency exit and roof escape hatch.

I know it could have been much worse, but what did happen is terrible and very sad.
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Old 05-18-2018, 12:04 AM   #12
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And the dump truck had the words "In God We Trust" written on it. What god? Shiva? If $hit like that happens when you trust your god, I can't imagine what happens when you don't.

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Old 05-18-2018, 01:57 AM   #13
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The trucking company is known as a problem child. There have been several violations that have resulted in citations and fines. So the truck driver will be found to have some fault.

But the latest reports are that the bus had missed the proper exit off of the highway. Instead of going down to the next exit and heading back the bus driver decided to do a U-turn on the highway patrol crossover.

Because the bus was hit in the left rear quarter I imagine what happened is that as the bus turned left to do the U-turn the back end swung out into the path of the dump truck.

I would imagine the last thing in the world the truck driver imagined happening was that a school bus would try to make a left turn on a limited access highway. And if he was traveling at highway speed there would not have been much time, if any, to avoid hitting the bus.
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Old 05-18-2018, 02:08 AM   #14
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Oh! I was just coming here to add that bit of news, but I thought I heard the newscaster say it was the truck driver who was trying to make an illegal U-turn. I just cannot imagine anyone even thinking a U-turn is possible on Route 80.
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Old 05-18-2018, 03:29 AM   #15
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I'm a little late to the discussion, but yes. Bus bodies in the last 30-40 years or so are specifically designed and engineered to come off the frame in a severe crash. I used to pick up parts from a company that produces for Blue Bird and when I saw some of the floor parts, I asked why they put punched holes in certain, specific places. I was told they were engineered to separate in a crash, so this bus body coming off is certainly no accident. It was supposed to!

And yes, on the seat belt requirement, or lack thereof. Who in this chat is aware that commercial airlines must be able to *COMPLETELY* evacuate an aircraft, regardless of size, capacity, or lading, in under 90 seconds? Kentucky has had 2 major incidents in the past involving school buses (one was a retired school bus operated by a church) in which the passengers perished because they could not escape in time. It is for this reason that Kentucky has the highest requirement for emergency exits than any other government agency in the world. By the same coin, there is no way a driver could unbuckle 60+ kids and get them evacuated in under 2 minutes.

I'm all for safety, but keeping these factors in mind, where do you draw the line?
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Old 05-18-2018, 06:09 AM   #16
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In any other type of vehicle that you would be required by law to be wearing seat belts in. I'm surprised there aren't more injuries to students due to not having them, But I guess the large size of the bus compared to what normally would run into it, the reduced speed the bus is usually traveling contribute to the lessening of injuries. The fact that so few died in this is a blessing. The driver was one of the survivors. One student and a chaperon perished.
The articles I've seen say the kids were wearing seat belts.
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Old 05-18-2018, 09:55 AM   #17
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There were seat belts on the bus. NJ is one of several states to require lap belts for all full sized busses.

As for the body seperating from the chassis. That's done by design. Crashes are viewed in terms of energy being transferred. The more energy that can be dissipated means the less energy that is absorbed by the occupants. There is a lot of engineering done to school busses to make them safe, down to the size and location of rivets in body panels.

If you look at the pictures and actually read the article, you'll realize how large of an accident this was and how fortunate it is that there were only 2 fatalities from it.
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Old 05-18-2018, 10:00 AM   #18
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Excellent post twigg.

I'd have to look for it again, but I vaguely recall an investigation or statement that mentioned that all of the individuals that were killed in school bus crashes that year wouldn't have been saved by seat belts.

I have a feeling that the two who perished in this crash were likely in the back left seat, at the point of impact.
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Old 05-18-2018, 01:04 PM   #19
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I don't think the driver fared too well- look at the pic. See the steering wheel?
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Old 05-18-2018, 01:09 PM   #20
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My 2c. I'm looking at the pictures & the dump truck is full of dirt or gravel & the truck is sitting maybe a 100 ft or so back from the bus, yet the spilled gravel is right at the bus area on the road. Did the truck driver move his truck back if so why.
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