The Child Safety Network (CSN), in partnership with the School Bus Safety Co., is launching an initiative that aims to reduce school bus accidents — with an added benefit of generating revenue for school districts.
The CSN Safe Bus program, which is offered at no charge, has several elements. One is a comprehensive curriculum provided by the School Bus Safety Co., covering such areas as advanced driver training, danger zones and bullying prevention.
Another part of the program is increasing public awareness on the need to stop for school buses. CSN has reportedly received support for its efforts from more than 200 celebrities, and organization officials said that many of them have agreed to bolster the Safe Bus program by performing radio and TV public service announcements (PSAs) to reduce stop-arm running. One PSA that has been recorded features Larry King.
Also, the Safe Bus program provides free GPS for buses and a smartphone app, with which parents can opt in to be notified of bus arrival times.
"Everyone involved has a role to play to make school busing safer," said Ward Leber, the founder and leader of CSN. "Our plan is to improve the safe practices of the drivers, the kids, the parents and the general public.
“In seeking to make school busing safer, we are aware that most school districts have limited funds to implement changes. Consequently, we have created a way to fund these improvements. We have many national companies ready and willing to fund these safety initiatives."
Officials stressed that the program is not school bus advertising. Sponsors may only receive recognition in exchange for providing specific free child safety technology, training and programs to the districts.
Corporate sponsors would be allowed to receive district-approved recognition on a small portion of the school buses and a mention in the parental notification system.
Also, officials said that the Safe Bus program offers 50% of the proceeds from sponsorships to the school districts that participate.
"This is an added incentive,” Ward said, “but our goal is not to be a 'fundraiser' — it’s to cover the costs for the school district and the parents so kids are safer and the district has another source of income.”
Jeff Cassell, president of the School Bus Safety Co., said that his company is "proud to be working with CSN towards this goal to make school busing even safer. ... They are taking action to protect the kids, not just talking about it."
For more information on the CSN Safe Bus program, go to www.csnsafebus.com.