In this issue, as is our custom this time of year, we focus on safety and accident prevention. For example, this edition's cover story, "8 Tips on How to Prevent Fatal Accidents," suggests practical ideas on how school bus operators can reduce the chances of tragedy. As we all know, concern with safety defines this industry. The public face of pupil transportation - the yellow bus, operated by a trained and caring driver - must credibly convey to parents that their children are safe between school and home every day. That in turn means that the pupil transportation industry must achieve a record better than the alternatives. Otherwise, the reason for this industry's existence ceases. Let's face it: There are other ways of doing the job. This is even more true than when buses began taking kids to school many decades ago. The reason why this special service still exists is that Americans continue to want and demand a separate, safer transportation system for their children. Use every resource available
That's why I once again urge all of you to take advantage of the conferences and other available industry-related information resources. Unfortunately, I still see too many empty seats at national and regional meetings. Similarly, while our magazine has the highest number of readers who request and regularly renew subscriptions in the industry, we could do better. I know of only four reasons for these empty seats. The first - apathy - I will dismiss because the average pupil transportation professional I meet seems to be extremely committed. The responsibility of transporting children is too large for anyone without a sincere devotion to safety to be involved in this industry. The second - lack of important information offered by these conferences - is not a plausible explanation, either. I've been to virtually every one of the National Association of Pupil Transportation's annual conferences for the past 15 years, and all of them have provided safety-related information that could enrich any school transportation program in the country. This year's NAPT meeting, to be held Nov. 2-6 in Indianapolis, will no doubt continue the trend. Even if you do not attend because you think you've heard it before, then perhaps you can send another person on your staff who could benefit professionally. Then ask that person to report what he or she learned to the rest of the staff, just to make sure you miss nothing new. True, local and state conferences contain very good safety information, but these meetings can worsen the third excuse - that there is not enough money. The reason is that there are so many of them, and there are reports of new regional meetings in the works. These meetings have their place, but they do not take the place of national meetings. If you have time or money for only one, spend it on the national event, where you can find the latest federal and state information and the newest equipment, all in one location. Today's computer technology has brought about another inexpensive and time-saving resource: the Internet. Our own Website, www.schoolbusfleet.com, features national school bus accident statistics, updates of breaking industry news and discussion groups that allow you to exchange information with your peers. And we recently redesigned the site to create an attractive yet user-friendly interface. Can you afford not to attend?
Online resources also help solve the fourth rationale - that school bus managers are simply too busy. So does delegating NAPT attendance to subordinates to give them professional development. But also ask yourself: Am I really too busy to prevent my next accident?