The Kansas Department of Education has tracked school bus ‘Danger Zone’ fatalities for over 50 years. Let’s look at the last 20 years:
- Ten Years – From 2000/2001 to 2009/2010: 118 fatalities (11.8 avg)
- Ten Years – From 2010/2011 to 2019/2020: 68 fatalities (6.8 avg)
The 10-year average number of loading and unloading child tragedies has reduced from 11.8 fatalities each year to 6.8. This is a reduction of five lives each year. Over 10 years, this is 50 children’s lives saved.
“Danger zone child fatalities have been reducing over the years and we think that the only way to continue this trend is to teach the students their role in staying safe.”
-Jeff Cassell, President, School Bus Safety Company
How has our industry achieved this? We think there are four reasons:
- Greater use of crossing gates
- Reduced crossovers
- Improved driver training
- Greater focus on preventing these accidents by school districts.
What can we do to keep reducing these tragedies? Even one child killed is one too many.
“As an industry, we do a really great job in providing safe school bus transportation, but there is one area we can do a far better job – teaching the students safe practices when they are in the danger zones around school buses,” explained Jeff Cassell, president of the School Bus Safety Company (SBSC).
“The reason for this is that in most cases no one takes the responsibility to provide this training. The bus depot has no way to train in a classroom setting. The teachers have enough to focus on in the schools, and parents often assume the school are providing this training. Bottom line, in most instances, they receive only a minimum cursory training by the driver at the start of the school year,” Cassell continued.
So, here is the new idea:
We need to do a better job at teaching children safe practices around the school bus.
The School Bus Safety Company has a revolutionary new idea.
Let’s get parents involved in teaching their children safe behaviors around a school bus.
SBSC has created a new training program for students in the Pre-K to grade 2 age group.
“We have studied the 123 student fatalities over the last 15 years and in almost every tragedy, had the child acted safely, the accident would have been prevented. The goal of these programs is to teach the students all the safe practices both outside and inside the bus,” Cassell stated.
“Do we really think that students who hear a list of rules read out by a driver from the front of the bus will listen to them, remember them and put them into practice?” he asked. “This is very unlikely, so we need to do a better job, and we have the answer.”
“We interviewed a group of parents with young children to ascertain the most effective way to influence their kids’ behaviors. We used our findings to create these new programs. For Pre-K to Grade 2, we have two programs, one in animation mode and one with real children. Even though they deliver the same messages, we recommend young children be taken through both,” Cassell explained.
Student Safety Programs
- Pre K to Grade 2 – School Bus Safety Patrol (real people) & My First Day (Animation)
- Grades 3 to 5 – The Magic Tent
- Grade 6 and above – Just the Facts
The Student Portal also includes programs on Emergency Evacuation and Bullying & Teasing Prevention.
Once the school district has this student portal, they can e-mail the link to all the parents in the district and request that the parents present these programs to their children. The most important are children in the Pre-K to grade 2 age range as they have by far the greatest number of fatal accidents. The parent can present the programs to their own child and add their reinforcement for safe behaviors.
“I have watched the new programs for Pre-K to grade 2 students and they are excellent.”
-Tony Corpin, Publisher, School Transportation News
The child is then taken through the program, reinforcing the safe practices. These include staying out of the danger zones, never running after the bus, what to do if you drop something and how to safely cross the street.
This is to just one child, not 30 or more, and is far more likely to shape the child’s safe behaviors. Plus, they can be presented multiple times during the year.
The programs will be available as a yearly subscription. For a very low cost, each school district will have unlimited access to the Student Portal that can be shared with every parent in their district, demonstrating a commitment to the children’s safety. For example, a district with 20 buses or less will only be charged $1,475 per year. For 20 to 50 buses, it is $1,975 per year.
Alternatively, a teacher or transportation staff member could use the Student Portal link to present the programs to the students.
“To my knowledge, nothing like this has ever been available before. This is revolutionary. Danger zone child fatalities have been reducing over the years and we think that the only way to continue this trend is to teach the students their role in staying safe,” Cassell added.
“I have watched the new programs for Pre-K to Grade 2 students and they are excellent,” noted Tony Corpin, publisher of School Transportation News.
When presented as designed, these SBSC programs should make students safer and will enable our industry to keep driving down the number of illegal passing tragedies. School transportation is starting up and now is the time to share these safety programs with parents.