Is That School Bus Safe for My Child?
As parents, we want our children to be as safe as possible when we send them off to school. Twenty years ago, we could assume our children were safe not only getting to school but in school. Unfortunately, there are many aspects of school safety that we simply have no control over. So we concentrate on the things we do have control over, such as how our children get to school. If you are fortunate enough to be able to take your children to school every day, you have a great deal of control over their safety. However, many of us have no choice but to trust the bus to transport our children safely from our homes to their school. Do you know how safe your school bus company is?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has developed an Online Safety Measurement System “Carrier Search” tool, which can be found at http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/sms/Data/Search.asp. This search tool allows you to search for your school bus carrier, either by legal name or a trade name (“d/b/a” – doing business as). Alternatively you can search by state. Once you are able to locate your school bus company, you can get details on the company including unsafe driving, driver fitness, drugs/alcohol, crash indicator and other helpful details. You may also access details regarding vehicle maintenance.
This tool makes it easier than ever to compare different transportation companies, if you have a choice, or to simply stay informed regarding the company you are entrusting with your child’s safety on their way to school. You will note that most school buses do not have seat belts. According to the American School Bus Council, school buses are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in avoiding crashes and preventing injury.
Drivers are well trained and carefully screened, participating in pre-employment and random drug and alcohol testing, as well as frequent record checks. The drivers receive specialized training in loading and unloading, as well as security and emergency medical procedures. The buses themselves are equipped with stop arm signs, flashing red lights, cross-view mirrors and reinforced sides. They are often painted a bright color to help keep them visible in inclement weather. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has a website dedicated to school bus facts. Ultimately, students are about fifty times more likely to arrive at school alive if they take the bus than if they drive themselves or ride with friends. Statistics also show that students are actually safer riding the bus than even being drive by a parent.
For more information regarding school bus safety, please refer to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.