CINCINNATI — February 2010 marks the American School Bus Council’s (ASBC) ‘Love the Bus’ program. First Student Inc., the largest provider of school transportation, joins the ASBC in their annual campaign to raise awareness of school bus safety and recognize the millions of drivers who transport students to and from school each day.School buses are the safest form of transportation on the roads today due in part to students diligently following bus safety rules and to the drivers who are dedicated to safely transporting their passengers every day.
“Our drivers recognize the tremendous responsibility they undertake in transporting children to school throughout the year, and they are truly committed to each child’s safety and security,” said Linda Burtwistle, president of First Student. “We fully support the American School Bus Council’s ‘Love the Bus’ program as it allows us to celebrate our drivers’ hard work as well as remind motorists to be safe around school buses. We all play a part in making sure children travel safely.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has determined that school buses are 12 times safer than passenger cars and 10 times safer than walking or biking to school. Even with this extensive safety record, school transportation companies like First Student continue to explore and add technologies that make buses safer. These include such tools as GPS systems which allow buses to be located instantly in an emergency, stop arm cameras to monitor motorists who pass buses illegally, and Child Check-Mate, an electronic reminder developed to ensure students are not left unattended on a bus.
The safety of buses is enhanced through proper driver recruitment, education and bus maintenance. Many bus transportation companies conduct driver background checks, strict training programs and regular maintenance tests to ensure buses are in optimal condition. First Student strives to provide parents with many reasons to ‘Love the Bus’ by performing the industry’s most extensive background checks, reviewing drivers’ residency, work, driving and criminal histories, and mandating drivers participate in more than 50 hours of behind-the-wheel and in-classroom training before transporting students. The company also performs ongoing and regular scheduled maintenance on its buses with comprehensive safety inspections occurring every 120 days or 6,000 miles, whichever comes first, as well as multi-point inspections before each route.
Extensive protocols and driver training are crucial for bus safety however there is no substitute for motorist awareness. Each motorist must ensure student safety by:
Turning off technology. While iPods, cell phones and blackberries are useful and fun, they can easily distract you while driving. Texting and searching for music can cause momentary distractions that could have disastrous results. Pull over to make phone calls, change your playlist or send texts.
Eliminating everyday distractions. Do not put on makeup or eat while driving. The few extra minutes you spend completing your daily tasks at home could prevent an accident.
Heeding all bus safety signals including stop signs. Yellow lights on the bus indicate it will stop soon so slow down. When the bus is stopped and the red lights are flashing, wait until the lights are extinguished and the bus is moving before you continue driving. Never pass a school bus when it is loading or unloading children.
Giving some space. Always leave plenty of space around school buses. Children may not pay as much attention to traffic as adults so take it upon yourselves to watch out for students darting across the street.
Be responsible pay attention