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School Bus Safety: More Than Just Seat Belts

Many school districts looking to improve their school bus safety are starting to turn to seat belts as one potential answer. However, the debate over school bus seat belts is surprisingly complicated. Plus, in any case, retrofitting an entire bus fleet with belts on every seat is a very expensive proposition.

Without wading into the question of whether school bus belts will actually save lives, we've got some suggestions for more cost-effective alternatives to improve school bus safety.

Four Reasons to Replace Aging School Buses

School buses are extremely expensive, and represent a huge investment for any school district which has purchased a fleet. It's entirely understandable that a district would want to get the most possible use out of their buses. However, nothing escapes the ravages of time, and at some point any school bus will outlive its usefulness.

Pitching a major fleet upgrade can be an uphill battle, but sometimes it's simply necessary. Or, at least, the cost-benefit analysis points towards old buses being too much of a liability. Here are some big warning signs that those older buses should probably be replaced.

NHTSA Video Asks Drivers to Stop for School Buses

There is no doubt that nearby drivers are one of the biggest dangers to students riding school buses. Every year, cars ignoring bus safety lights and stop arms endanger, injure, or even kill student riders. This is a problem that should be preventable, if only there were better public education - and now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is trying to make that happen.

Dealing With School Bus Trespassing

Sometimes it seems like people do things that we shouldn't need to say are completely inappropriate...like trespassing on school buses. Unfortunately, it happens. In fact, in recent months there have been several high-profile cases of unauthorized individuals boarding school buses to harass students or staff. Worse, some districts - such as the Escambia County School District - have discovered there aren't even laws on the books preventing it!

While not the most common threat to student bus safety, school bus trespassing is a legitimate problem that districts should be prepared to confront. Here are some of the things you and your drivers should be aware of.

West Virginia Requires Supervision at School Bus Stops

 

Various states are always trying new experiments in how to improve school bus safety, but a recent initiative in West Virginia has been raising eyebrows. According to their new Policy 4336 (PDF), all children in grades K-3 must be "supervised" at bus stops for both pickup in the morning and drop-off in the afternoon.

Can New Diesel Engines Improve School Bus Health and ROI?

 

It wasn't long ago that "diesel" was a dirty word when talking about fuels. However, diesel has come a long way since then. Modern diesel engines, backed by technologies to clean the fuel and prevent harmful emissions, are making a major comeback in many areas, including school bus engines. Proponents say there's no reason to embrace more experimental technologies, like propane or CNG, when diesel is already widely available.

School Bus Safety: Are Lights Enough?

Recently, we came across an interesting School Bus Fleet article about a petition proposing a change to school bus lighting systems that, according to the petitioner, would improve school bus safety. It's far from the first time such an idea was proposed. The problem of cars either ignoring or not seeing school bus warning lights consistently creates dangerous situations for student riders.

Avoiding Disaster in the School Bus Danger Zone

 One of the cornerstones of a proper school bus safety training program is an emphasis on the "Danger Zone." That is, the area immediately surrounding the school bus where children could be in danger of being hit by other cars - or the bus itself - and are potentially hidden by the bus's blind spots. Drivers must understand the threat represented by the Danger Zone, and be thoroughly trained on how to minimize the actual danger to their students.

School Bus Loading and Unloading: Improving Safety In The Danger Zone

Few aspects of school bus loading and unloading are more dangerous than the appropriately-named “danger zone.” The danger zone includes areas near the bus where a student cannot be directly seen by the bus driver, and where incidents involving other vehicles are most likely to occur. The danger zone can be considered to be a rectangle stretching 10 feet from the bus in any direction, with the most dangerous areas being the immediate front of the bus as well as anywhere within arm’s reach of the back half of the bus.

School Bus Safety: Making Loading and Unloading Safer

It’s generally agreed that loading and unloading are the most dangerous times for a child riding a school bus. In fact, the loading and unloading area is even occasionally referred to “the danger zone” because of how many problems could potentially occur. The students are beyond the driver’s direct control and exposed to traffic and other hazards.

 

 

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