School bus

In Red Bluff, California, a FedEx delivery truck slammed into a tour bus full of high school students. The vehicles exploded into flames, and the accident left ten people dead.

The deadly incident in the city of 14,000 people started when the FedEx driver crossed a meridian on Interstate 5, sideswiping a bus. No tire marks were made on the roadway, providing no evidence the driver ever applied the brakes. The truck then careened into a bus full of teenagers. Many scurried out of the bus before both vehicles erupted into flames. The driver of the sedan told authorities the FedEx truck was on fire before the vehicle hit his car, although there is no evidence to back up that claim, and no other witness confirm the observation.

Federal officials are looking at ways to improve safety aboard buses.

“The worst thing for the NTSB is to show up, know that we’ve issued recommendations from a previous accident where lives have been lost, and find out [that] if those recommendations had been closed and enacted, lives could have been saved,” Mark Rosekind, a National Transportation Safety Board member, told the press.

That organization lobbied for years, in support of seat belts on buses. That regulation was finally passed, but will not go into effect until 2016. The bus involved in the accident was equipped with the safety equipment, but many of the victims were not wearing restraints at the time of the accident.

Students were first brought to school aboard horse-drawn wagons in the years before the first World War. These vehicle were often borrowed from local farmers. In the 1920’s, motor vehicles ferried students to school, and the first school buses were created.

School employees and students were killed and injured in a series of tragedies. In 1939, the first meeting to develop national safety standards for buses was held. Eleven more meetings since that time have improved standards, but employees and students are both in danger if they don’t buckle up.

Five students, three adult chaperones and two drivers all died in the inferno.