School transportation providers and suppliers nationwide are marking the National Association for Pupil Transportation’s (NAPT’s) National School Bus Safety Week by holding refresher training, partnering with law enforcement, and advocating for key legislation this week.
The theme for NAPT’s annual campaign this year is “My Driver – My Safety Hero!”
Bus drivers for Arizona’s Florence Unified School District #1 are participating in an “If you see something, say something”-themed drill and scavenger hunt, Shannon Weber, the director of transportation for the district, told School Bus Fleet.
Items ranging from tape on a pre-trip item under the hood to suspicious items or packages are placed on buses for drivers to identify throughout the daily inspection process. Drivers can return the items they find in for a reward. If an item is not found, it will be returned to leadership by mechanics for a coaching opportunity on detail and safety awareness, Weber explained.
The transportation department also partnered with local law enforcement to review safety topics such as the danger zone, crossing safety, and bus stop safety in a short video.
Transportation staff members have also been able to win prizes for correctly answering trivia questions throughout the week.
In West Virginia, the Kanawha County Schools transportation department demonstrated to local law enforcement and its transportation and safety/security teams the new exterior AngelTrax 12-camera system and a new internal nine-camera system on many of its buses, Briana Warner, communications director for the district, told SBF.
The transportation department has also switched to electronic reporting of illegal passing incidents to make reporting easier for drivers and staff.
“Thanks to increased form completion and reporting, along with improved camera angles for capturing license plate numbers and/or driver faces, we have already seen an increase in summons for those breaking the law,” Warner said.
Meanwhile, the Texas Department of Public Safety noted on its Facebook page that it has troopers across the state riding or following school buses to ensure that motorists are obeying laws that prohibit passing stopped school buses.
“DPS urges all motorists to make the safety of our schoolchildren a top priority year-round, and to practice safe driving habits when traveling near school buses, in school zones and wherever children are present,” said Steven McCraw, director for the department. “Drivers who disregard the law needlessly put children in danger, and that type of reckless behavior will not be tolerated by law enforcement.”
The New York School Bus Contractors Association (NYSBCA) has supported National School Bus Safety Week by renewing its call for the passage of legislation — AB8565-A and companion bill SB5974 — that aims to increase motorists' awareness of the law prohibiting passing a stopped school bus. The bills seek to do this by including a school bus safety component in the driver’s education curriculum, and at least one question on school bus safety in the New York state pre-licensing written exam.
“Protecting our children as they travel to and from school should be just as high a priority as protecting them while at school," said Bree Allen, NYSBCA president. "By ensuring that drivers are taught from the very beginning the dangers and illegality of passing a stopped school bus, we are empowering drivers to make safer decisions while on the road.”
Student Transportation Inc. (STI) is hosting safety meetings that focus on educating about danger zones with customers, parents, and employees at the company’s more than 170 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada.
“This week is a good one to focus on some key areas like reducing danger zone risk with an emphasis on correct crossing procedures,” said Shelly Hall, vice president of safety for STI. “We’ll continue to reiterate to our drivers how to give clear instructions to students about danger zones, discuss the importance of counting the kids away, knowing where the kids are, and clearing mirrors before pulling away, among other helpful tips to keep kids safe.”
This week STI also announced the sixth group of inductees into its Safety Wall of Fame, which recognizes employees who were nominated by location managers across North America. The 15 inductees will be recognized during a special ceremony in the spring with members of the STI executive and senior leadership teams in Charleston, South Carolina.
To help educate students and their families, smart fleet management technology supplier Zonar created a downloadable checklist for parents and kids to help stay safe while on the school bus.