Bus safety complaints down one year after Woodmore crash - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

3 INVESTIGATES

Bus safety complaints down one year after Woodmore crash

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Channel 3 is checking in on how the Hamilton County school system receives and responds to complaints a year after the Woodmore bus crash. Since then, several changes have been made to increase safety and keep bus drivers accountable.

A week ago, a phone number was placed on all Durham school buses. That phone number is meant to make it easier for parents or community members to file a complaint about a bus.

Channel 3 got a look at all complaints filed this school year and found the number of complaints is down.

READ MORE | Woodmore bus crash

A look at recent complaints filed with the Hamilton County Department of Education shows some of the same issues including speeding, driver behavior, and dangerous bus stop locations.

"You're going to have complaints, but how we address complaints professionally and timely is the most important thing," David Eaves, Transportation Director for Hamilton County Schools said.

That focus is what David Eaves says he brings to the table as the district's newest transportation director.

Earlier this year, a Channel 3 investigation uncovered 800 pages of complaints filed by 200 parents, students, school employees and residents along routes. Those complaints were filed between August 2016 and the deadly Woodmore bus crash in November.

PREVIOUS STORY | 3 Investigates: Hamilton County school bus complaints, responses

That same time period this year produced 89 pages of complaints and responses. Eaves attributes the dip to new technology.

"If I'm a bus driver and I've got five cameras at me and a GPS, I'm going to be as safe as I can," Eaves said.

A device called DriveCam starts recording when a bus suddenly swerves, brakes or changes speed. Buses also have a GPS monitor.

A new reporting system allows parents to call or use a website to report concerns.

"If you see a bus, let's take for example 350 having some issues with speeding, it's going to tell you those issues and that manager can address those issues," Eaves said.

There are now about 100 bus monitors on the school system's 250 routes. Jerry Green is waiting for a monitor to be placed on his bus.

"We're at risk every day we get in that seat from the safety of the students to avoiding accidents," Jerry Green, a bus contractor said.

Green is a veteran bus contractor.

A year after the deadly Woodmore crash, he said drivers are under scrutiny more than ever. The wreck still weighs on him.

"It's a sad day for all of us the day it happened and it's a sad day even today. There was a lot of tears lost. All of the bus drivers really suffered over this," Green said.

The school system's transportation department says it's been a struggle to hire drivers and even more difficult to process what happened to the six children who died.

"I've got some great people that work in my department. They lived through it and my number one objective every time I come to work and every time I leave here is to make sure my kids are safe," Eaves said.

You can report a bus complaint by either calling 1-833-BusReport or logging onto www.busreport.com.

The NTSB says the final report on the Woodmore crash won't be finished until sometime next year. Those reports can take 12-18 months to complete.

Once the report is finished, Durham says they'll review and consider all recommendations.

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