School districts and school bus contractors used National School Bus Safety Week to educate both motorists and student riders on best practices to follow around school buses.
Students were heavily involved in their safety observances. Hawaii middle schooler Branden Pagurayan was recognized for winning this year’s National Association for Pupil Transportation poster contest, though he was actually chosen last fall at the association's conference. Next year's theme will be judged next month in Columbus, Ohio.
Meanwhile, Texas school bus dealer Rush Bus Sales sponsored a state-wide poster contest and the Texas Association of Pupil Transportation recognized the winners at the state capital. Kearney Public Schools in Nebraska hung its district's winning posters in the transportation office and posted school bus safety flyers in coffee shops across town, Director of Transportation Becky Reier told STN.
Zonar Systems, Inc., provider of “smart fleet management technology,” shared that October is a particularly dangerous month for students because of “a markedly later dawn and earlier dusk, meaning buses are driving in the dark for longer periods,” as well as “unpredictable icy or rainy road conditions, resulting in hard-to-navigate roads.”
These issues were addressed in Minnesota’s Bemidji Area Schools, where some students were given flashing lights to attach to their clothing or backpacks. “I told my guys that are driving buses to look for these little lights,” district Transportation Coordinator Greg Liedl assured kids.
Some schools, like Elmer Wolfe Elementary in Maryland, carried out one of their two annual bus evacuation drills this week in order to coincide with School Bus Safety Week. Linn-Mar Community School District’s Transportation Department in Iowa conducted safety drills throughout the week and released a reminder of their “Bus Rules,” which begins with remembering that “Good behavior on the bus enhances the safety of all."
Special-education students in California’s Oroville City Elementary School Districts discussed school bus safety and received prizes handed out by the transportation department, Transportation Coordinator and school bus driver Rhonda Copelin told STN.
School bus contractor Student Transportation, Inc. produced videos that are aimed at students and cover proper behavior on and around the bus. The School Bus Safety Company, which provides training resources for bus drivers and students, offered free PDF copies of their safety-themed poster.
The New York School Bus Contractor’s Association took the opportunity to express their support for two proposed bills that would increase fines and stiffen penalties for illegally passing a school bus or hurting someone while doing so.
On Monday, Columbus City Public Schools began testing a Type-A school bus with enhanced safety features that was developed along with the state Department of Education and Ohio Highway Patrol. “These new features, designed to increase visibility of the school bus to other motorists, includes adding four amber & red supplemental warning lights to the front of the bus, and new reflective material to the rear of the bus,” Jeff Vrabel, the district’s fleet services manager and past-president of the Ohio Association for Pupil Transportation, told STN.
Maryland’s illegal passing rates are down from last year, per recently-released results of the count conducted in April for the annual NASDPTS illegal passing survey. The state Department of Education released a sobering video (included at the end of this article) that featured video clips of students being hit by vehicles at crossings and feedback from bus drivers and law enforcement on the importance of this topic.
Wednesday was School Bus Driver Appreciation Day, and several schools took time to specially honor and thank these dedicated individuals. Staff and students at Agua Fria Union High School District in Arizona provided school bus drivers with treats and cards, said Transportation Director Dani Danielak.
In Idaho’s Blackfoot School District No. 55, Transportation Director Melissa Nichols shared that she and the Secretary/Dispatcher cooked breakfast on Tuesday for the drivers. “Driving a school bus is a hard and demanding job and drivers get little appreciation for it,” she said.
Georgia’s Thomas County Schools honored and thanked its “Super Hero” bus drivers. Atlanta Public Schools held a dinner on Tuesday “to celebrate and honor our bus operators, monitors, fleet personnel and staff,” and shared more about transportation staff in a series of blog posts, Executive Director of Transportation John Franklin shared with STN.
“Everyone in the community plays a role in ensuring students travel to and from school safely,” said Dennis R. Maple, president of school bus contracting company First Student, in a statement. “Together, we can prevent injuries and save lives.”
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