To all Members of the Maryland School Bus Contractors Association:


As you are no doubt aware, a tragic crash involving a contractor-owned school bus and a MTA bus occurred in Baltimore on November 1, 2017. The crash was initiated when the school bus driver, an epileptic, lost control of the school bus after suffering a seizure.


On May 22, 2018, the NTSB adopted its report Selective Issues in School Bus Transportation Safety: Crashes in Baltimore, Maryland, and Chattanooga, Tennessee. The details of these investigations and the resulting safety recommendations may be found in the attached report, which can also be accessed at https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Reports/SIR1802.pdf


NTSB determined that the probable cause of the Baltimore school bus crash was (1) the loss of vehicle control due to incapacitation of the bus driver because of a seizure stemming from a long-standing seizure disorder; (2) the bus driver’s continued operation of a school bus with a disqualifying medical condition and a fraudulently obtained commercial driver’s license; and (3) the failure of AAAfordable Transportation and the Baltimore City Public Schools to provide adequate bus driver oversight, allowing the medically unfit driver to drive a commercial vehicle with a medical condition that they knew, or should have known, could lead to the unsafe operation of the school bus. Contributing to the severity of the crash was the lack of a collision avoidance system with automatic emergency braking on the school bus.


Among the safety recommendations NTSB issued in its report was one new recommendation issued to the Maryland School Bus Contractors Association, which can be found on page 77 of the report:


Inform your members of the circumstances of the Baltimore, Maryland, school bus crash and lessons learned from the crash investigation to help raise awareness of the avenues available to report school bus drivers with medical conditions that may make it unsafe for them to operate a school bus. (H-18-16)


In light of this terrible tragedy and in response to NTSB’s recommendation, MSCA wishes to underscore the importance of being vigilant when it comes to screening prospective school bus drivers and attendants. Allowing individuals who do not meet Maryland’s stringent medical standards to drive school buses or serve as attendants will inevitably lead to vehicle crashes, injuries and fatalities as it did in the Baltimore crash last year. We as an Association need to work with our local school systems to ensure that every single man or woman who gets behind the wheel of a school bus has met each and every criteria required of them, with zero exceptions.


I am happy to answer any questions you may have regarding this very serious matter. 


Robert “Squeak” Edwards