School Buses
Halt | September 29, 2022 | 0 Comments

Are School Buses Safe?

When a parent hears about a bus accident of any kind, it can feel traumatizing. Kids ride on buses often to & from school, as well as for field trips and other activities and events. While seeing news about a bus accident can be upsetting, there is a reason these situations stand out so much in your mind—they just aren’t that common.

Of course, there’s always a risk of an accident on a bus, as is true of any motor vehicle, but below, we detail some of the things to know about safety and the pros and cons of having your child ride the bus.

How Safe Are School Buses?

Safety of School Buses

According to the NHTSA or National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, buses are the safest vehicles on almost every road. The NHTSA says that children are significantly secure going to & from school on a school bus than they are traveling by passenger vehicle. Around 4 to 6 school-aged children are estimated to die annually on school transit vehicles, which is less than one percent of all national traffic fatalities.

According to Thomas Built Buses, which makes many of the buses you see around the nation, every day, these vehicles transport around 25 million students both to & from school. They say the yellow school bus is the roadway’s safest form of transportation, being 13 times safer than riding in a family vehicle.

The bus company goes on to say that students are 70 times expected to reach school safely if they take the school bus versus driving there themselves or getting a ride with friends.

One reason that buses are exceedingly safe is that they’re required to meet stringent regulatory standards. They’re required to meet 42 Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards—more than other vehicles.

One safety standard specific to school buses is using compartmentalization. This is described as an automated form of passenger protection, characterized by high-packed seats that are closely spaced and padded. The seats are also designed for energy, which protects passengers.

Thomas Built Buses have features including side reinforcement, a rafter system, and extended roof bows, that all help with safety too.

Technology is continuing to help improve the safety of buses. Some of the innovations that are coming onto the market and improving bus safety further include electronic stability control, collision mitigation systems, stop-arm cameras, and video cameras located within and outside the bus. Student and vehicle tracking technology and lane departure warnings are being added to buses too.

Some school buses now have seatbelts, including two-point lap belts or three-point lap and shoulder belts.

Driver Safety

School Bus

While the design of buses is considered very safe, the drivers also have to be well-trained to make the facility a safe experience.

All bus drivers are must have a Class B or C Commercial Driver’s License or CDL. Bus drivers are also required to have either a P endorsement for passengers or an S endorsement for school buses.

Drivers have to go through random drug and alcohol testing, undergo the same criminal background checks as teachers, and they have to go through a driving record check.

Bus drivers go through comprehensive training on safe driving and the monitoring and protection of students when they’re onboard.

Why Don’t Buses Have Seatbelts?

We mentioned above that some newer buses are being equipped with two- or three-point seatbelts, but it’s not a requirement, so why is that?

Seatbelts, according to the NHTSA, aren’t necessary for school buses.

The compartmentalization is largely why buses don’t need seatbelts. The children onboard are protected if there is a crash because of the strong and energy-absorbing seats.

If a bus is small or a school vehicle has a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds, or under that, there have to be seatbelts.

Discussing Bus Safety with Your Kids

If you decide that you want your child to ride the bus, there are safe habits they need to learn.

Children should know where their stop is, and they should learn to stand at least three steps back from it. Once the bus gets there, children need to learn to wait to board it until it comes to a complete stop.

Kids should use the handrail as they’re getting on the bus, and they should know not to ever walk behind it. Children need to make eye contact with the bus driver before they start to cross the street. And also, if they drop something near the bus or something falls accidently, they should let the driver know they’re picking it up.

are school buses safe

Planning for Your Child’s Bus Rides

If you’ve gone over the pros and cons of your children riding the bus, and you’re going to have them do it, then there are factors you need to ask about beforehand. You’ll want to ask who’s going to be on the school bus with your child and who the driver is. You also should ask about the route the bus is going to take and what time the bus is set to actually get to school.

You should learn where your child will get off the bus at school and also when they arrive home and how many kids the bus will be carrying.

Ask what time the bus leaves school, the route on the way to your home, and the specific rules for kids when they’re on the bus. You’ll also want to establish who your point of contact should be if you’ve concerns or issues.

Along with traffic safety, parents also consider things like whether or not their child might be exposed to bullying on the bus. By meeting the driver and staying active in your child’s riding experience, you can help reduce the risk.

As a parent, you’ll want to know what the consequences are if bullying or misbehavior happens on the bus, how it’s reported to you, if it involves your child, and generally handled.

School buses are a safe transportation option for the most part, but you still need to verify a lot of details before letting your child ride and also have conversations with them about how to keep themselves safe.

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