COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Franklin County leads Ohio in school bus-related crashes.
According to data tracked by the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) and analyzed by NBC4 Investigates, more than double the amount of school bus-related crashes occurred in Franklin County than in Cuyahoga County between January 2016 and now. Franklin County also saw roughly 30 percent more school bus-related crashes than Hamilton County during that same time period.
The same set of data shows Cuyahoga County had three percent more total crashes than Franklin County since 2016, and Hamilton County had just under one percent fewer.
With 1,093 since 2016, Franklin County is the only county in Ohio with more than 1,000 school bus-related crashes during that time.
“Obviously, a number like that is striking,” said OSHP Sgt. Brice Nihiser. “Any time we put data together, we’re always looking for ways to address the issue that we see.”
According to Nihiser, school bus-related crashes are typically not the bus driver’s fault.
“So in a lot of cases, the crash involving the school bus, it’s where another driver isn’t paying attention,” Nihiser said. “Make sure that you’re following those appropriate laws – stopping 10 feet in front of or behind when they have that stop bar signal, and just making sure that you’re keeping those kids safe.”
Ohio law requires drivers traveling in both directions to stop when school buses are stopped on roadways with three or fewer total lanes. On roadways divided by a median and roadways with four or more total lanes, only drivers traveling in the same direction as the bus are required to stop.
Nihiser said U.S. Highway 40, otherwise known as Broad Street in Columbus, saw the most school bus crashes, 36, since 2016. The busy thoroughfare is at least four lanes wide through much of Columbus.
There are more eyes on the road than ever before to capture violations. Nihiser said troopers routinely follow school buses to keep an eye on other drivers, and a growing number of buses are equipped with cameras.
“If a school bus does have a violation that goes past it and they have it on a recording and make a complaint, we’re always going investigate those situations and follow up, if we can identify a suspect and issue charges,” Nihiser said.
A school bus-related violation in Ohio carries a mandatory court appearance and a fine of up to $500.
The OSHP data shows there hasn’t been a deadly school bus crash in Ohio in more than a decade, with the most recent occurring in 2010.
Click here to see crash data for your county.