Safety

NSTA Advocacy in Action — Going (Above and) Beyond the Numbers for School Bus Safety

John Benish Jr.
Posted on August 12, 2019
File photo
File photo

In your recent industry-related reading, research, and travels, you have, no doubt, encountered statistics associated with the school transportation industry.

Our industry is one of many that are taking part in a greater trend: the increased use of analytics. Part of the reason for greater reliance on these numbers in the business world, as well as in the school bus industry, is that they are supposed to give an unbiased explanation of why something does or does not occur.

At the National School Transportation Association (NSTA), we are as guilty as any other industry in relying upon data to tell our story. But can you blame us? When we testify in front of regulators, or meet with members of Congress (as I did on July 25, to the House Transportation Infrastructure Committee, Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, at its hearing, “Examining the Federal Role in Improving School Bus Safety”), we try to stay on message.

We usually lead with a simple but powerful statement: “Riding a school bus is already the safest way to transport students to and from school.” As you can see, our message continues to be a solid representation of what our industry does. Keep in mind that this is a fact-driven statement, and our industry would lose credibility if these words could not be supported by data.

To that end, according to U.S. Department of Transportation statistics, “a child is 70 times more likely to get to and from school safely when riding a school bus compared to other modes of transportation — safer than a parent driving their child to school, walking, biking, or students driving themselves.” This is, once again, a powerful sentiment that is supported by the numbers. Yet, even though these statistics highlight the incredible safety record of school transportation, many of us get lost in the numbers.

So while the “stats” paint a great picture, let’s be mindful of how we got to this place. This data did not come about by luck or happenstance. School bus operators go above and beyond the call of duty in providing safe and secure student transportation. Safety remains of paramount importance, but not just as an aspiration; it is also ingrained in our culture and the service we provide to our communities.

Keep in mind that federal and state laws and regulations give a mere baseline for providing safe and efficient school transportation, but school bus contractor commitment goes far beyond these edicts. And I would be remiss if I failed to mention the dedicated and hard-working men and women who are professional school bus drivers. These individuals deserve our respect and support; without them, school bus transportation does not exist.

John Benish Jr. is the president of the National School Transportation Association.
John Benish Jr. is the president of the National School Transportation Association.

Even though I said earlier that statistics don’t tell the entire story, I am going to leave you with one final (statistically driven) thought. During a school year, nearly 500,000 school buses are on our nation’s roads each day, carrying over 26 million students, according to the American School Bus Council. Wrap your head around those numbers, as you ponder the importance of the school transportation industry. We are and will continue to be an integral part of the educational experience for students, and I am proud to be associated with an industry that is as dedicated as school transportation.

We are looking forward to advancing school transportation endeavors through the continued efforts of this dynamic team. Come join us. With NSTA, you never travel alone.

Related Topics: American School Bus Council, contractors, NSTA

Comments ( 0 )
More Stories
Video

School Bus Songs: ‘I Drive A Bus And It’s All Because…’

Transportation staff at the School District of Manatee County (Fla.) put their own spin on Montell Jordan’s popular hit “This is How We Do It," showing what it takes to drive a big yellow bus. (The video concept was inspired by another parody posted in 2012 by Jeremy Byler.)

School Bus Fleet ConneX (SBFX) will convene in Scottsdale, Ariz., from April 22 to 24, 2020. Shown here is a roundtable discussion at the inaugural edition of SBFX, which was held in Miami, Fla., in April 2019.
News

School Bus Fleet ConneX to Return in 2020

Next year’s event will bring school bus operators and suppliers to Scottsdale, Ariz., for roundtable discussions, one-on-one meetings, and other networking activities.

The State Board of Education adopted rules to require lap-shoulder belts and other safety equipment in all new school buses purchased by school districts and state-accredited non-public schools. File photo courtesy Des Moines (Iowa) Public Schools
News

Iowa Moves Closer to Requiring Seat Belts on New School Buses

The State Board of Education adopts rules to require lap-shoulder belts and other safety equipment in all new school buses purchased by school districts and state-accredited non-public schools. The rules are subject to legislative review before taking effect.

Product

Stop-Arm Camera System

The integrated stop-arm camera system from Pro-Vision Video Systems can automatically capture video evidence of vehicles that illegally pass stopped school buses. 

The 56th annual Iowa Pupil Transportation Association (IPTA) conference drew a total of 235 attendees. Attendees heard from a variety of experts including authors, accident investigators, and experts on federal and state laws. They also reviewed bus crash test data and video, and viewed demonstrations of disc brakes, evacuation drills, and school bus crashes. Shown here, attendees prepare to watch a school bus crash demonstration. Photo courtesy April Darling
Photo

PHOTOS: Iowa Pupil Transportation Association Conference

School bus officials, transportation directors, mechanics, and other student transportation employees from across the state gathered in Des Moines from July 15 to 17 to attend the Iowa Pupil Transportation Association’s annual conference.

Be the First to Know

Get the latest news and most popular articles from SBF delivered straight to your inbox. Stay on top of the school bus industry and don't miss a thing!