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Students Who Know School Bus Safety Make the Bus Safer

Battle Ground Public School students in Washington state are rewarded weekly with tickets for following the district’s basic school bus rules, as part of the district’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program.

Helen Peterson was inducted into the Safety Wall of Fame in October, 2018.

The five rules are: Be respectful to everyone; sit facing forward; keep feet and body out of the aisle; food and drinks stay in backpacks and lunch boxes; and use inside voices and zero voices at railroad crossings.

One school bus driver who participates in the Bravo ticket program stands out to her employers and was inducted into the School Transportation Inc., Safety Wall of Fame in October.

Helen Peterson, a School Transportation of America (STA) bus driver for Battle Ground Public Schools, recognizes five students a week who best illustrate the five rules listed above. These students receive Bravo tickets that can then be cashed in for various prizes.

“Helen has been dedicated to Battle Ground STA for almost 16 years,” said Mark Worley, regional director of safety and training at STA. “Helen cares and knows every one of her students by name, as well as acknowledging their birthdays. Helen enjoys her work daily, which exemplifies itself through her attendance, care of her equipment and safety record.”

Peterson and other drivers cover several different training techniques with their students. Basic bus riding requirements covered with students include the operation of the fire extinguisher, contents in the first aid kit, emergency phone numbers and how to operate a two-way radio. Students are also taught what to do if the bus driver becomes disabled, as well as location and knowledge of exit doors, windows and hatches in case of an evacuation.

“If my students know safety, then it makes my job of driving a lot safer and easier,” Peterson said. “It allows me to keep my eyes on the road and keep the kids safe.”

School bus drivers in Washington state are expected to review the basic bus safety rules with students, and attend meetings to be current on the school’s rules and regulations. Bus Evacuation Safety training is also covered by the STA for all new bus drivers, with training refresher courses held twice a year.

“I do training to cover the basic bus riding requirements during the state-required Bus Evacuation Drills that take place in October and March of each school year,” Peterson said. “One example, I teach the kids to not get up at stops by demonstrating the sound of the air brakes (parking brake) to them. Basically, I have the kids sit quietly at the school and I start the engine and release the brake. I then have the kids practice standing up after they hear the brake set noise, to demonstrate to them how to wait until the bus is secured at their bus stops.”

Peterson was described by Worley as very knowledgeable on the safety policy and procedures. She always helps new drivers and has an exemplary attendance record.

“She is also extremely attentive to teaching her students how to properly behave on her bus,” Worley said. “Helen is an example of integrity, holding others to the same standards she holds herself to, and expecting more from herself than from others.”

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