CINCINNATI — School is back in session and yellow school buses are out in full force. First Student, Inc., the nation’s leader in student transportation, would like to remind parents to take a moment to talk to their children about school bus safety.
Today’s school buses are the safest, most technologically advanced they have ever been. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, riding a bus is the safest way for children to get to and from school. It’s safer than walking or riding a bike and is even 13 times safer than riding in the family car.
But parents still need to discuss important safety rules with their children to make the ride to school on a school bus the safest it can be.
“The most important school bus safety rule parents should share with their children is to make sure the driver can see you at all times,” says Gary Catapano, senior vice president of safety for First Student, the nation’s largest provider of school transportation. “That means staying ten giant steps away from the outside of the bus, and always sitting in your seat when inside the bus.”
Parents, please share these other important school bus safety tips with your children: Don’t ever run after the bus or if you drop something near the bus, don’t pick it up. Instead, ask the driver for help. If you have to cross in front of the bus, wait until the driver lets you know it’s OK.
First Student Urges Parents to Talk about School Bus Safety If you have to cross the street after getting off the bus, always look both ways and keep an eye out for other vehicles on the road. Wait for the bus to stop completely before you approach it to get on or before you stand up to get off. Talk or laugh quietly with friends, but do not scream or dangle anything out of the window, it distracts the driver.
“Safety is a core value at First Student,” says Catapano. “Our entire focus as a company is to take children to and from school safely each day. That’s why we employ highly-trained drivers and maintain school bus fleets that utilize the latest technologies and safety features.” Global positioning systems (GPS) are being installed on First Student buses to provide dispatchers with the exact location and speed of a school bus at any time. They also provide a record of each bus’ route and all of its stops, starts and passes.
First Student was the first to install an electronic reminder system that aids drivers in checking for sleeping children at the end of each route.
All First Student buses are equipped with safety crossing gates on the front of all buses to keep children from crossing directly in front of the bus so drivers can better see them.
Flashing lights and extended stop arms warn motorists that children are boarding or unloading a bus.
Every First Student bus is designed with well-anchored seats with high backs that are heavily padded to absorb impact and create a protective area.
Smaller buses for preschool children and special needs students utilize car seats or specialized restraint systems and have a monitor on board at all times.
In addition, First Student buses operate under many stringent safety protocols:
- Certified mechanics perform preventive maintenance inspections to ensure buses are running at peak performance.
- Drivers conduct vehicle safety checks before each route.
- Drivers adhere to a strict no-idling policy to reduce school bus emissions.
- First Student Urges Parents to Talk about School Bus Safety
First Student drivers must meet extensive requirements:
- Each driver must pass a comprehensive background check, substance screen and full DOT physical exam.
- Drivers must complete more than 50 hours of classroom and behind-the-wheel training.
- Monthly safety and training meetings throughout the year reinforce operational and safety policies and procedures.
- And, First Student regularly conducts driving history checks and random substance screens.
“As the leader in student transportation, our singular goal is to safely transport the 4 million children entrusted to us on our buses across North America to and from school.” says Catapano. “Often, school bus transportation may be a child’s only means of getting to school, and therefore potentially their only access to education. It’s a tremendous responsibility that we take very seriously.”