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More people are slamming into stopped school buses in St. Johns County

The number of crashes this year is on par to meet or surpass last year's record number of crashes

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — A disturbing trend is happening in St. Johns County. More and more people are slamming into stopped school buses, according to traffic data.

The backseat of a county school bus is sitting in a parking lot, covered with shattered glass. Someone hit the back of that bus Monday. 

"If we had a child in that seat yesterday, we’d gave an injury or potentially a fatality, no doubt," Al Pantano told First Coast News Tuesday. He's the Director of the St. Johns County School District's Transportation Department. 

This latest crash has his department trying to brainstorm what else they can do to make a big, yellow bus with blinking lights more visible.  

The crashes are not the fault of the bus drivers, he said, but the crashes keep happening. 

"There’s a lot of warning prior to a bus stop, but when motorists are distracted they’re not going to pick-up on that warning," Assistant Director Logan Lowery said. 

According to Logan, there were two rear end crashes in 2019, three in 2020. The number jumped to seven rear end crashes in 2021.

And already, there have been four rear-end crashes in the first three months of 2022.

So far, no one on the buses have been hurt, according to the Logan.

Why are there more crashes?

Logan said he thinks there are a few reasons. "With the growth of the county, our traffic is more than it was several years ago. I think distracted driving, cell phones. And excessive speed."

Pantano said that most drivers slow down when they see a police car on the road, and people should do the same with school buses.

The buses are designed to withstand a crash, according to Phil Rizzo with the St. Johns County School Transportation Department. 

He said, "The kids are safe on them. Parents should feel safe putting them on there. We’re just asking for some motorists' awareness, slow down. Watch for flashing yellow lights. We’re out there."

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