Ohio law enforcement agencies are right to be warning motorists to obey the law concerning school buses and be very careful around them. As we have warned, too many drivers pass stopped school buses or engage in other dangerous behavior.
Children need to be careful while they are boarding, riding and getting off buses, too, as the Ohio State Highway Patrol stresses.
But there is another concern about school bus safety in Ohio. While it pales in comparison to hazards caused by scofflaw motorists or children not paying attention while getting on and off buses, it nevertheless merits attention.
Nearly 1,700 accidents involving school buses in Ohio were reported last year. Most were minor, but some involved injuries to children.
There have been two Ohio school bus accidents in which children were killed during recent years. Both were caused by school bus drivers.
In 2009, a bus ran off the road and overturned near Zanesville. Six-year-old Kasey King was killed. Six other children and the bus driver were injured. Though the driver claimed she swerved to miss a car, videotape from the bus proved that to be a lie.
Earlier this year the driver, Carol Oler, 48, pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and failure to keep her bus under control. She was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
Last year in Butler County, April Phann, 15, was crossing a street to get to her school bus when the vehicle ran over and killed her. The bus, operated by a private company, was driven by June Henry, 61. According to an eyewitness who tried to stop the bus after it ran over Phann, Henry did not seem to know what happened.
Let us be very clear: In general, school bus drivers are among the safest motorists on the road. They take their jobs and children's safety very seriously. Day in and day out, they earn the public's confidence and gratitude.
The overwhelming majority of school bus accidents are caused by other motorists or children engaging in unsafe behavior. Focusing attention on those hazards is the right thing to do.
But as the two Ohio fatalities demonstrate, it cannot be taken for granted that bus drivers are safe. Most school districts and bus contractors work hard to ensure drivers are safe and without serious health issues. The fact Oler had to be cleared to drive by a doctor is evidence of that.
But a few unsafe drivers slip through cracks in the system. They need to be closed.
If the rules need to be tightened or new safeguards need to be put in place, that should happen as soon as possible.