Joseph Moore Professor N. Esposito English 101 February 27, 2011 There Should Be No Question When It Comes To School Bus Safety: School bus accidents almost always bring some sense of anxiety. It does not matter if it includes injuries or if there are no injuries, the general population always fears the worse. The statement of “children are safer on the bus” goes right out the window when a parent is informed their child has been involved in an accident while riding the bus to or from school.
However, that statement is a true statement children are safer on the bus than in a regular vehicle during school hours. The facts are parents put their trust in someone else to deliver their child or children to school and when there is an accident that trust becomes compromised and the parents easily blame the driver of the bus automatically. It is at this time the age old question comes into play. Would children be safer if they were made to wear seat belts on the bus? Ultimately, a child would not be safer if made to wear seat belts on the bus.
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It is not the intent to discredit the severity of any accident but most of the time when a school bus is involved in an accident no one is hurt on the bus, and if there are injuries the injuries are not life threatening. School buses are designed to absorb most of the impact of any hit sustained in an accident causing the child’s risk of injury to become less. As a matter of fact, according to an investigative report done by the NTSB, “due to the compartmentalization design of the school bus seat, there were very few differences found between restrained and unrestrained dummies in a crash test. (NTSB. com) These crash test were done as head on, side impact, and rear end collision. There is a greater risk of a child receiving a more threatening injury should the bus be over turned, however, most impacts a school bus receives is not strong enough to force the bus to its side or top. In these situations a restraint would be helpful in keeping the child in there designated place but still could cause injury when the child is caught in the belt suspended in the air, that mixed with fear is a horrible combination when a child attempts to free them selves from the restraint.
It is often the driver becomes penned or helpless in such accidents and really doesn’t offer much assistance to the children on their buses. There are many different safety sensitive materials issued to help educate the public when it comes to school bus safety. J. J. Keller says, “the children are at a greater risk of injury boarding and de-boarding the school bus. ” (JJ Keller. com) In other words, the actually bus ride is safe in is when the children are getting on and off the bus that creates the risk of injury. It is advised that children’s clothing, book bags, and even hair can cause a child to become injured when exiting the bus.
Keep in mind; most classroom sizes range between 18-25 students so in essence there are up to 3 classrooms of children on most of our buses in populated areas. 75 students to one driver is not a very good ratio when it comes to making sure all children are kept safe on the bus. Now, imagine you have 75 children all in seat belts and the bus catches fire. According to J. J. Keller, a bus can be fully engulfed in flames in 3 minutes. There is no way one driver could unrestrained 75 elementary school children within that time frame. It is simply impossible.
A bus fire is more common that an accident requiring the use of seat belts. The truth is there should be no limit to ensuring the nations children are kept safe while in transit to and from school. It is often said school buses carry the nation’s most precious cargo and that is also a very true statement. Bus drivers are trained or should be to handle any thing that arises or could possibly arise on the bus, anything from a fight (student management) to an emergency bus evacuation (safety). Earlier I stated boarding and de-boarding is the most sensitive and that is still true.
Also, in our state it is against the law for a student to cross three lanes of traffic. Crossing one lane often presents a risk but added lanes add risk. There is a wonderful book called ABC’s of School Bus Safety. In this book there are many different safety messages not to just the student but also the parent, and the other motorist on the roadways. The book suggests, “stay alert. ” (ABC’s of School Bus Safety) Is that a message for the other motorist or the driver of the bus? The answer is, it is message for the driver, the students, and the passing motorist. If we all stay alert we can reduce the risk of an accident.
No one intends to collide with a school bus and that is why it is called an accident. School bus accidents will continue to happen but they could happen a lot less with the help of all drivers. According to the Georgia Department of Education, “the general duties of a school bus operator is to operate school buses under all types of weather conditions including, but not limited to sun, fog, rain, sleet, hail, snow, and ice. Transport students and other authorized persons on “to and from” school routes in regular, special education, vocational, or extracurricular trips as authorized by the local school system. (GADOE. com) It is considered to be a successful day in the school bus industry if all the children are safely delivered and accounted for at the end of each route. There are many different aspects that help ensure a student remains safe during their ride on the bus. The driver should operate the bus in a safe and efficient manner. Also, the driver should be performing a pre-trip and post-trip inspection of their bus. Maintaining orderly conduct of student passengers. Drivers should make sure the keep their buses clean and report any maintenance issues.
The mention of making students “buckle up” is not found for ensuring children are safe on buses. It is not only the drivers responsibility to keep the students informed of safety procedures but also the parents of the students on his or her routes. According to the National School Bus Association, “a bus driver should remind the parents of his students of any unsafe acts their students may be doing while on the bus. ” (NSBA. com) This could happen in a variety of different way but one common way is through a pink slip or a write up.
Students are to maintain the same rules on the bus as they do in a classroom. The school bus is considered an extension of the school building. As one could see, it is evident the driver of a school bus has a lot of things to worry about while delivering students to and from school. There is more to their day than just driving a big yellow bus and taking screaming kids to school. School bus driving is one of the most complicated jobs there is to only take up 4 hours or so of some one’s day. The eyes of a school bus driver is constantly scanning the scene making sure the area of the bus stop is safe.
If you added the buckling and unbuckling of seat belts to the list of things the driver has to do already it would be over the top. Then add an accident or bus fire to the mix and there is no way a driver could unbuckle everyone’s belts. It is much safer to allow for the bus’s compartmentalization to secure the safety of the students. After all, buses have been transporting students safely for years even before it was the law to wear a seat belt in your own vehicle. References: 1. NTSB. com 2. JJ Keller. com 3. ABC’s of School Bus Safety by Susan Benson 4. GADOE. com 5. NSBA. com
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