School bus company CEO implements major safety changes after Chattanooga crash

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The CEO of Durham School Services, the company that owns the bus involved in the tragic Chattanooga crash, announced three major safety changes on Thursday.

The new actions come after six children were killed when the school bus driver, hired by Durham, somehow lost control and hit a tree while driving on a road that wasn’t even part of the designated route.

David Duke, CEO of Durham, said they received a lot of comments from people wondering why they haven’t responded to reports circulating after the crash.

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Duke says since the accident involved their bus and their driver, they needed time to conduct their own investigation, which is ongoing.

(Courtesy: NTSB)
(Courtesy: NTSB)

“We also wanted to be sure we didn’t disrupt the investigation being conducted by the police and the National Transportation Safety Board, and we wanted to be sure we didn’t do anything to intensify the anguish of the affected families or the broader Chattanooga community,” he added.

PHOTOS: Chattanooga school bus crash

But ahead of those investigations being completed, Duke said three changes are being accelerated in the hopes it will strengthen the trust parents place in them.

Firstly, there will be a secure, nationwide, cloud-based complaint management system that will directly connect every single school that uses Durham. It will allow for teacher and administrators to report issues with buses and specific drivers.

This change will be immediately online for Chattanooga and rolled out by the end of next year for the entire customer base.

Secondly, Duke says they will be installing advanced smart cameras in all 16,000 school buses. The cameras will record both the driver and the road each time they sense unusual driving.

All buses in Chattanooga will have the cameras by the end of the year, and they will be installed in all buses across the country within the next two years.

(Courtesy: Chattanooga Fire Department)
(Courtesy: Chattanooga Fire Department)

Thirdly, Durham will appoint of a Chief Safety Data and Compliance Officer by the end of the first quarter next year. This person will work with the Senior VP of Safety and report directly to the CEO.

They will be a “dedicated leader to continuously review all available data to identify potential issues before they become actual issues.”

Duke said they are committed to reinforcing the importance of safety among their bus drivers and all employees.

“And that includes extensive behind-the-wheel training, frequent safety meeting at every location, and additional training after every reported incident no matter how minor,” he added.

“We are heartbroken. I am personally heartbroken by the tragedy in Tennessee. We are determined to prevent this kind of thing from happening ever again,” Duke concluded.

Click here for complete coverage of the Chattanooga school bus crash.