DeKalb County school bus drivers had more than 400 accidents in 2016, according to updated records on bus accidents submitted by the school district to the Georgia Department of Education.
For 2016, the DeKalb County School District reported 432 accidents to state officials, about 1.2 accidents daily. That’s more than any other metro Atlanta school district, according to state data.
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Initially, the district reported 206 accidents to the state between July 21 and Dec. 1.
The DeKalb County School District did not report any crashes in 2014 and only two in 2015. It learned of the yearly discrepancies from an inquiry by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
District officials submitted 230 accident reports to the state for 2014 and 267 for 2015 after the discrepancy was discovered.
School districts are required to report every accident within 45 days to the Georgia Department of Education through an online portal. But some districts report crashes sparingly if at all, state officials said.
“Since learning that the accidents were not reported in the last two years, we started pulling weekly reports of what is reported to the state,” district officials said in the statement. “A bus accident report is now produced once per week to verify that we are reporting accidents.”
State officials said the data was used to tailor annual required training sessions, but did not offer specifics on how the data impacted training.
In Georgia, school bus drivers can be as young as 18, as long as they have passed a driving skills test and other requirements. Some districts require drivers to be 21 or older. Georgia’s laws do not mention mental health checks.
Concern about school bus safety grew after six Chattanooga elementary school children were killed days before Thanksgiving when a bus driver said he lost control of the vehicle and it flipped, crashing into a utility pole and a tree. Police charged the driver, Johnthony Walker, 24, with vehicular homicide, saying he drove “well above the posted speed limit of 30 mph.”
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