OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — The death of a 9-year-old Waterford Lakes boy killed under an Orange County school bus Tuesday afternoon has many wondering if the accident could have been prevented.

What You Need To Know

  • There were 12 deaths in school bus-related crashes in Florida in 2021, according to the National Safety Council

  • School transportation officials in Osceola County are testing new technology to reduce bus-related fatalities

  • New cameras piece together 360-degree views for the bus driver

  • Cameras also record drivers that pass buses that are parked and loading/unloading students

Osceola County school transportation officials are currently testing technology on some of their Thomas Class-C buses to increase safety.

This is the same type of bus involved in an incident that left a young Orlando boy dead. Investigators say the child crawled under the bus after being dropped off from school, and the incident is still under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol.

“When the bus is making a student stop or pickup, we want that to be hallowed ground,” said Randy Wheeler, Coordinator of Transportation for Osceola County schools.

Wheeler said multiple cameras are mounted on both sides of the bus along with the rear and front of the vehicle when equipped with the camera system.

The videos are pieced together to give the bus driver a 360-degree view around the bus for additional safety.

The technology goes one step further by recording drivers that pass by parked buses that are unloading students.

Video, still images (including the license plate) and the data is sent to law enforcement, where citations will be sent through the mail.

Drivers passing by parked school buses is a major problem for drivers in Osceola County.

“We are still in the testing phase of this technology,” said Wheeler.

Orange County school buses do have mounted cameras inside and outside of their fleet, but the devices are for recording purposes only.

FHP officials said troopers reviewed the surveillance video from the school bus and a nearby apartment complex, and also interviewed the bus driver, who has more than a decade of experience.

Wheeler says even with this new technology, Tuesday night’s incident would be difficult to have prevented from happening

“The question is, is there technology underneath the bus? There is nothing that I know of. And in my opinion, that is the ultimate blind spot,” said Wheeler.

The new camera technology will be tested for the next three months on several buses throughout the county.

If all goes well, officials hope to install the cameras on many buses by the end of the summer.

“It cost around $7,000 per bus to set up this kind of system on each vehicle,” said Wheeler.

The district believes the cameras will pay for themselves by tickets paid by violators and also plan to use funds to purchase 3-point retractable seat belts for all their buses.