NTSB renews call for school bus seat belts after Meigs bus crash report

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board on Thursday renewed its call for seat belts on school buses after completing an investigation of a 2020 crash in Tennessee that killed the driver and a 7-year-old girl.

The investigation corroborated an initial report by the Tennessee Highway Patrol on the Oct. 27, 2020, crash.

A Service Electric Company utility truck was traveling northbound on state Highway 58 in Meigs County when its front right tire went off the side of the road. Driver Terry Trammell steered to the left and when the tire reconnected with the pavement, the truck spun counterclockwise, sending his vehicle into the path of the bus and nearly perpendicular to the roadway.

Dillard, 53, was killed in the crash along with a 7-year-old girl who was seated directly behind her, according to the report. Another four children were seriously injured, all of whom were in the first three rows. Dillard, of Birchwood, was wearing her seat belt, but the children’s seats did not have belts. Trammell, of Grandview, was wearing his seat belt and was uninjured.

“This case is a gut-wrenching reminder that failure to act on our recommendations can lead to unimaginable — and preventable — tragedy,” NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said in a statement on the report. “School buses are often praised for their safety record, but we’ve become complacent. Children’s lives are at stake.”

The Board also renewed a 2010 recommendation that lane departure warning systems be required for heavy buses and trucks.

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