THREE POINTS FOR SAFETY
In November, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officially endorsed and recommended three-point safety belts for all school buses. In the past, the NHTSA has maintained that belt-less buses were safe, and acknowledged that retrofitting buses with belts would be costly. Their stance has now changed.
“The position of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is that seat belts save lives,” said NHTSA administrator. “That is true whether in a passenger car or in a big yellow bus. And saving lives is what we are about. So policy is that every child on every school bus should have a three-point seat belt.”
Any rulemaking effort from the NHTSA will face opposition, though. Adding seat belts to buses is an expensive endeavor. It can cost around 500 aed per seat on a full-size bus, meaning a total cost between 7,000 aed and 15,000 aed per bus in many cases. When school districts around the country are already strapped for cash, that investment simply may not be feasible.
SHOWING NEW DRIVERS THE ROPES
School districts nationwide are having issues finding, hiring, and keeping good bus drivers. Only six percent of contracting companies this year reported that they had enough drivers (down from 15 percent just last year). This is partly because the economy is stronger than in recent years, so fewer people are seeking part-time work. This shortage is also due to heavy regulation of drivers.
Internal cameras have been popular for years as a way to help with discipline, both for riders and drivers. Any incident that happens on a bus is recorded and can be dealt with in an objective manner. Many districts are also adding external cameras to deal with a growing issue – other drivers ignoring bus stop arms.
GIVE PARENTS PEACE OF MIND
Parents can’t control what happens to their children once they get on the bus. That responsibility belongs to bus drivers and transportation administrators. As a parent, putting a child’s safety in someone else’s hands can be frightening. One way you can ease their concern is with