A new training program instructs school bus drivers and students on what to do if power lines fall on their bus.
The program, "Safe Practices for Downed Power Lines," was developed by the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) and the School Bus Safety Co. (SBSC).
According to NAPT and SBSC, many times each year school buses are involved in accidents involving power lines falling onto the bus, which can create a dangerous situation.
(A recent example occurred with a school bus in Oak Bay, British Columbia.)
SBSC and NAPT worked with experts from the power industry to create the new training for school bus drivers and students.
“We all agree that being prepared for such a catastrophe will help prevent it," SBSC President Jeff Cassell said. "The drivers need to know what to do and how to do it if they face such a situation.”
NAPT Executive Director Mike Martin said that "few, if any, school districts address this important issue. After studying the potential for such a tragedy and asking our members if they address this, we saw a huge need for this program.”
Officials said that the new program addresses "myths" about power lines. It informs both drivers and students what to do when a bus is involved with power lines and how to safely exit the bus if they have to when they are unsure whether the line is active or not.
“Overhead lines carry high voltages. These can be 30,000, 60,000 and in some cases as high as 1 million volts," Cassell said. "The power companies are very concerned that if such a line is touching a bus and the breaker has not activated, untrained school bus drivers will take actions that they think are correct, but could result in a tragedy.”
Officials said that exiting the bus when power lines are involved is completely different from how students are taught to perform emergency evacuations in all other situations.
The programs for drivers and for students combined are available from SBSC for $199 plus shipping costs. A discounted price of $125 plus shipping is available to NAPT members.