Columbia Public Schools Target School Bus Hazards, Accidents
COLUMBIA - National School Bus Safety Week launched Monday, and Columbia Public Schools has launched an initiative to ensure safe, responsible conditions on its buses. The district said it also intends on making the community aware of factors that contribute to fatal school bus accidents each year.
Every day, thousands of children from Columbia Public Schools utilize the public school bus transportation system. Typically, these students are under limited supervision during their commutes, with primary responsibility of their safety lying solely on bus drivers.
According to CPS Transportation Coordinator David Wilson, district officials will visit the 19 Columbia elementary schools and three middle schools from Oct. 17-21 to introduce the annual, required emergency evacuation drills. Bus drivers will instruct students, in the event of a true emergency, what they would be expected to do, what they would be directed to do, the various emergency exits on the school buses and how to be prepared.
"We ask that the kids display the same behavior on the school buses as they do in the classroom," Wilson said. "The kids need to understand that it's not a place to play. They need to understand it's a situation where they need to behave and be safe."
The National Association of School Psychologists writes, "Children are typically not under the supervision of teachers or parents when riding the school bus. Such unstructured situations often lead to misbehavior and episodes of poor judgment on the part of some students. Disruptive behavior may distract the driver or may encourage a student to take unnecessary risks."
These risks aren't limited to the school bus environment. Also in light of National School Bus Safety Week, Wilson says CPA is reaching out to all drivers on the roadways. Wilson said, "It's a state law that whenever a school bus is stopped to load and unload children, all vehicles on a two lane road must also stop. [This] is a time for us to stress to the public and to the community how important it is to be safe around school buses."
The National Association of School Psychologists found that of students who have died in school bus-related incidents nationwide, almost two-thirds were killed by school buses. However, Wilson said children actually are safer on school buses than they are in any other form of transportation. He said buses are built to a a construction that will protect the lives of most students, regardless of seatbelt use, in the event of a roll-over or other accident. "Buses are the safest form, statistically speaking, of any form of land transportation on earth," he said. None of the 155 school buses servicing Columbia Public Schools has seat belts.
Drivers serving Columbia Public Schools must complete a minimum of 50 hours of training prior to operating school buses and then continue ongoing training throughout their bus-driving careers. They, along with school officials, must conduct emergency drills twice a year for kindergarten through sixth grade, as required by Mo. state law. High schools are not mandated to conduct such drills.
Wilson said though National School Bus Safety Week officially ends Friday, CPS officials will continue the safety initiative until demonstrations have been given at all 22 schools involved.
Click here for Columbia Public School Transporation page and safety tips.
Click here for National Association of School Psychologists "Bus Basics" and statistics.