WREG uncovers the steps to check a bus company’s safety before booking them

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Family and friends are preparing to say goodbye to Kameron Johnson, the 9-year-old who was killed in Monday's bus crash in Saline County, Arkansas.

His funeral is planned for next Saturday.

As everyone mourns the loss of Johnson, healing slowly begins for the other kids who were injured and their families in more ways than one.

Deidra Terrell's son, Ty'Jier, was hurt in the crash.

"It's been really hard. It's been really, really hard. You know, you never expect for things like this to happen," she said. But sadly it does.

Monday's accident marks the second fatal bus crash in the Mid-South in less than a month.

On November 14, two women were killed and 45 were injured after a tour bus crashed in DeSoto County, Mississippi en route to the casino from Huntsville, Alabama.

Both fatal crashes involved bus companies with safety problems.

Teague, the carrier in the Mississippi crash, had previous violations bad enough to take buses off the road.

Scott Shuttle Service, the company from Monday's crash has paid two federal fines, including one in July for allowing a worker to drive without the proper license.

It was also involved in an accident in 2017, where records show the bus driver was blamed for hitting an SUV from behind.

All of this information can be found online. Before hiring a bus company, safety advocates use the phrase 'Look before you book.'

Start by going to FMCSA.gov. It's the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the government agency that regulates vehicles like charter buses.

Once you're there, click 'Bus,' then 'View Bus Company Safety Information.' You can search by entering a company name.

Check the company's safety rating first.

It's at the top of the page and listed as satisfactory, which is the best, conditional and unsatisfactory.

But go beyond the safety rating. The blue tabs reveal important information, like whether the company's had a crash, if there have been problems with drivers and how well it maintains its vehicles.

For example, an "out of service" or "O-O-S violation" means the vehicle had to be taken off the road. So pay close attention to those.

And look to see if the company's been fined before.

A few other steps you can take before booking a bus company include reading online reviews, getting references and not just focusing on the price.

When you talk with the bus company directly, ask specifically about the bus they're planning to use for your trip and about the driver.

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