Every year National School Bus Safety Week reminds educators, students and the public about the importance of safety both inside and outside 480,000 yellow buses that convey kids to and from school each day. Safety tips are issued, police patrols are increased and student transporters introduce safety programs utilizing new technology or training for students and their bus drivers.
Still other districts express appreciation for their bus drivers by hosting special breakfasts, barbecues and other celebrations. Pinellas County Schools in Florida kicked off the celebration earlier than usual this year, when it honored 30 district bus drivers who have maintained perfect driving records for 10 or more years at an Oct. 8 school board meeting (see photo below).
There, board members thanked many of the drivers in attendance for their hard work and dedication to safety (click here for the list of names). But Pinellas County Transportation Director Rick McBride said he prefers to call his drivers “student transportation specialists” to emphasize just how hardworking and highly trained these individuals are.
The theme of the 2013 National School Bus Safety Week, from Oct. 21 to 25, is “Stand Back from the Yellow and Black!” — which reinforces the importance of training students to remain cautious, alert and safe around the bus during loading and unloading. NAPT, NASDPTS, NSTA and the American School Bus Council joined forces in the early 1990s to create this public education program to actively promote school bus safety nationwide.
Legislators in various states have proclaimed the third week in October to be recognized as School Bus Safety Week every year. In Michigan, Rep. Ray Franz (R-Onekama) recently introduced a resolution to give school bus drivers and all transportation staff a special appreciation day on Oct. 23, and it passed in the House.
“The importance of the resolution is not only to recognize bus drivers and those that keep them on the road, but to say thank you,” Franz said. “School bus drivers and schools’ transportation department staff are a big part of our lives across the entire state of Michigan, whether you have children getting rides on the bus or are sharing the road with them, and they deliver a job well done in a very safe and timely manner.”
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett hosted a ceremony on Wednesday at his residence in order to honor student artists and school bus drivers. PennDOT and Pennsylvania State Police officials honored 11 students as 2013 School Bus Safety Poster Contest winners and six school-bus drivers as 2013 Pennsylvania School Bus Driver Safety Competition winners.
“Through their posters, these creative young students are helping us communicate important safety messages,” said Brad Mallory of PennDOT. “Their artwork is a reminder to all of us that remaining alert and exercising common sense around school buses can save young lives.”
The theme for this year's poster contest, “At My Stop – You Stop!" stressed the need for motorists to exercise caution near school bus stops and obey the school bus stopping law.
Certificates and governor's citations were also presented to the winning school-bus drivers. Held each June, the competition tests school bus drivers' knowledge of safety rules and safe operation of their buses
A Week of 'Spirited' Fun
Chambersburg Area School District (CAASD) in the south-central region of Pennsylvania held special events every day this week to commemorate School Bus Safety Week. On Monday, all students were encouraged to wear yellow shirts, to “Yellow Out” their schools. A special visitor greeted Hamilton Heights Elementary School students — Buzzy the Safety Bee, a new mascot to help the district convey its new motto: “Bee safe,” for school bus safety. Buzzy (pictured above) will visit the elementary students throughout the school year to share important safety tips.
"They love it," said Lisa Small, who works in the transportation department. "If you have a mascot like Buzzy Bee, it keeps them interested. It keeps their attention more. It helps them learn a lot more."
All week bus drivers have reviewed bus safety tips such as staying out of the “danger zone” (the 10 feet area around the school bus) as well as rules kids are safe at the bus stop and during the bus ride, and what to do when bullying occurs. Elementary students will receive activity books from their bus drivers, plus stickers from their teachers.
Outside of school, the Chambersburg Mall is hosting activities Thursday through Saturday. Heck-Myers, one of the contractors CASD uses, has provided a bus for display where parents and children can receive brochures and activity books on bus safety. Buzzy the Safety Bee will be available for photos. There will also be a coloring contest children age 12 and younger. On Saturday, Chambersburg Area Senior High School National Art Honor Society members will do face painting from 1 to 3 p.m.
Additionally, the community is invited to walk through the “Haunted Hallways” at Chambersburg Area Senior High School Friday and Saturday night. Several hallways will be decorated as haunted sites for the event, while student actors will make the scene come alive.
More than 1,000 people are expected to attend the weekend events in Chambersburg designed to add more “spirit” to the weeklong festivities.
Then the Houston Independent School District's transportation department created a music video (see below) commemorating School Bus Safety Week that is getting a lot of attention. The video, called "School Bus Shuffle," shows Transportation Field Safety Investigator Curtis Harris, who also is a local musician, rap a catchy song to remind students and drivers about staying safe on the school bus. So far the video has received more than 23,000 hits in five days on YouTube, said Mark Swackhamer, CAFM, senior manager of fleet operations for HISD.