As bus drivers gear up to start a new school year, their biggest priority is safety. It’s also one of their greatest concerns.
Bus drivers say their concerns center around distracted drivers who simply don’t pay attention when buses are slowing down or even stopping for that matter.
While it seems like common sense, stopping when you see the flashing stop sign is something drivers fail to do often.
One school transportation supervisor said: “I probably get that more than anything else, we have 180 buses out there probably 30 or 40 of them have something that happened to them that day.”
Motorists also tend to get what is called “yellow fever”; they’re are in a hurry during their morning commutes, so they rush to pull out in front of a school bus trying to avoid getting stuck behind it. This often causes accidents because buses are not given enough time to stop.
Bus drivers remind motorists that a school bus is a 30,000-pound, 40-foot long vehicle which cannot just stop on a dime.
According to the National Safety Council, whether children walk, ride their bicycle or take the bus to school, it is vitally important that they – and the motorists around them – take proper safety precautions.
Meantime, the debate around safety belts in school buses continues. Following a deadly school bus crash in New Jersey in May, there has been a renewed call to put seat belts on school buses.
As of last year, 29 states have introduced bills to put seat belts on school buses.
However, safety experts say school buses don’t need seat belts. “First, safety is already built into the seats. They’re a little closer together and the seats are higher when it comes to the backs, and there’s padding on those backs”, according to one expert.
Also, the buses themselves are higher than most vehicles on the road, so any impact should be below the seats.
And last but not least, adding belts would cost up to $15,000 per bus.
Parents should remind their children ahead of the new school year: always sit in your seat, behave and face forward. That’s the safest position if a crash should happen.