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CINCINNATI - The I-71 bus crash in Kentucky that killed 27 people, mostly children, returning from Kings Island on May 14, 1988 after a church trip prompted several legislative changes related to bus transportation.
One of the most immediate results involved bus construction and safety.
Days after the crash, then-Kentucky Governor Wallace Wilkinson formed the Governor's Task Force on School Bus Safety to examine buses and make recommendations for safety enhancements.
In the Carrollton incident, a Meade County Schools school bus had been sold to a church in Radcliff, Kentucky. A pickup truck traveling northbound on I-71 in the southbound lanes struck the bus head on. Most of the victims ended up trapped in the bus after it caught fire.
By July 1988, the Kentucky Legislature approved a number of changes recommended by the committee that were signed into law by Gov. Wilkinson. Twenty-five years later, the recommendations remain law.
Below is a list of some of the recommendations from the task force.
- Suspension of the purchase of any gasoline powered school buses to be used to transportation of Kentucky public school children.
- Development of a timeline for the retirement of all gasoline powered school buses from the state school bus fleet.
- Adoption of a left side emergency door for emergency exit.
- Placement of up to 4 (four) push out windows on full size school buses for emergency egress.
- Retrofit of push out windows on existing fleet.
- Body side intrusion testing on all new buses purchased for use in Kentucky.
- Use of fire-block upholstery.
- Initiate the use of fire resistant flooring.
- Placement of roof hatches on Kentucky school buses for egress in rollover incidents.
- Placement of heavier axles and larger brakes on all school buses sold in Kentucky.
- Mandatory training for all public school bus inspectors.
- Monthly school bus inspections.
- Ban on the use of gasoline powered school buses on out of district trips.
- Increase initial training requirement for Kentucky public school bus drivers from eighteen (18) to twenty-four (24) hours.
- Require ongoing motor vehicle record and criminal record checks for all school bus drivers.
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