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NTSB begins investigation into deadly school bus crash

An accident involving a school bus and a dump truck that happened not too far from Philadelphia may have Pennsylvania parents worrying about the safety of their children. The truck accident occurred earlier this month, when 25 children were being transported on the bus.

An 11-year-old girl died in the accident. She was one of three triplets; both of her sisters were seriously injured, as was another child.

The National Transportation Safety Board is examining the accident, which took place in Chesterfield, N.J., to better understand the use of safety belts in buses. New Jersey is one of six states that require passengers on a school bus to wear the restraints, but Pennsylvania does not. With a thorough investigation, the NTSB stands to learn quite a bit from this accident on the benefits of seat belt usage in school buses.

According to students on the bus, safety belts were being worn when a dump truck collided with the bus. Investigators from the safety board will be looking to see how many of the students were actually wearing the restraints and what kind of role they played in the crash.

Of the 25 children on board the bus, 17 were hurt in the crash. No charges have been filed by the authorities as of yet -- they are waiting for toxicology tests to come back and for the initial investigation to come to a close.

According to officials, neither of the drivers had any active points on their licenses. Records show that both drivers have had violations in the past; the 66-year-old bus driver had one as recent as 2007. Before that, he received a violation for careless driving while operating a passenger vehicle in 1994. The 38-year-old dump truck driver received a citation for reckless driving in 2003 and a speeding ticket in 1997.

Source: AJC, "Feds probe belt use in fatal NJ school bus crash," Bruce Shipkowski, Feb. 17, 2012

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Gregory R. Gifford
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