Hanson County bus crash raises road safety questions
Students on a Hanson County School bus had a scary ride today. The bus was rear-ended on Highway 38 outside of Alexandria.
Three students on the bus were taken to a Mitchell area hospital, but luckily, no one suffered any serious injuries.
The accident occurred at a location where bus drivers have feared danger could be possible. The Hanson County School district requested a School Bus Stop Ahead Sign more than three years ago, but Wednesday's accident had school officials questioning the sign's effectiveness.
"Well obviously it didn't work this time, but you know, how effective is a big flashing school bus with yellow lights," Hanson School District Superintendent James Bridge said.
The driver of the pick up, 23-year-old Arlo North of Howard, SD, looked down for just a moment. However, that moment of distraction led him to crash into the bus. The high-speed impact of the crash was enough to push the bus more than 100 feet down the highway.
Superintendent Bridge said the accident could have been much worse.
"It's a real heavy traffic road. A lot of big trucks come back and forth from the quarry," Bridge said.
Tammy Williams with the State Department of Transportation office in Mitchell said school bus stop ahead signs are placed in areas where drivers' views are obstructed.
According to state standards, questionable bus stops are measured to see if an object three feet or smaller can be seen from 750 feet in either direction.
"If you can see it, then there's enough distance to stop and so sings won't be put up," William said.
The DOT said South Dakota's standard of visibility from 750 feet is well above the national standard of 500 feet.
Bus drivers, parents or concerned drivers can request a Bus Stop Ahead warning sign in their area; if the area meets the state's standard, a sign will be put up.
But as Williams points out, the signs are only as effective as drivers themselves.
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