MACEDONIA, Ohio — Responding to a drastic increase in child fatalities around school buses last school year, four organizations have teamed up to offer a free danger zone training program.
The Public School Risk Institute, the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT), the School Bus Safety Co. and 247Security Inc. launched a cooperative endeavor to provide the comprehensive program at no charge to school districts nationwide.
“As members of an industry committed to safety excellence, we are devastated by this sudden increase in deaths,” said Jeff Cassell, vice president of school district operations for the School Bus Safety Co. “This situation demands our immediate attention.”
Seventeen children were killed in school bus loading or unloading accidents in the 2008-09 school year, according to the Kansas State Department of Education’s national survey.
The total was a big increase from the previous school year, in which there were five fatalities — the lowest total on record.
The Danger Zones program, one of many titles in the School Bus Safety Co.’s Driver Training Course, features a 20-minute DVD, a trainer’s guide and a driver handout. It covers all aspects of how drivers should behave to prevent danger zone accidents.
“If you take for granted safety in and around the areas immediately outside the bus, you are asking for trouble,” NAPT Executive Director Mike Martin said. “It’s called the ‘danger zone’ for a reason.”
Noting the spike in fatalities last year as evidence, Martin added, “We must redouble our efforts to ensure school bus drivers are well trained and on guard, which will save lives. Every school district in America should take advantage of the unique opportunity to obtain a copy of this training program — and then use it.”
Cassell said Tuesday morning that about 350 requests had already come in for the program.