BATAVIA, Ill. — The American School Bus Council (ASBC), a coalition of public and private transportation providers, school bus manufacturers and state officials responsible for pupil transportation, encourages parents across the country to choose the safest form of transportation to and from school for their children this school year: the yellow school bus.
Yellow school buses, the largest system of mass transportation in the country, transport nearly 25 million students to and from school each school day; that’s more than planes, trains and subways combined. But increased ridership does not mean more accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), yellow school buses are the safest form of transportation to and from school. In fact, students are 70 times more likely to arrive at school alive if they take the bus versus driving themselves or riding with friends, according to NHTSA.
“The statistics are startling,” said Diana Hollander, president of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services. “We all want to protect children as they go back to school this school year, and one of the ways to do that is to use the school bus as the primary form of school transportation. Riding the school bus literally may save your child’s life.”
One of the primary reasons school buses are so safe is because they meet more federal motor vehicle safety standards than any other vehicle on the road, 42 altogether, according to NHTSA. In addition, there are a number of emerging technologies on the market today to make school buses even safer, including video cameras on both the inside and outside of the bus, stop arm cameras, student and vehicle tracking technology, lane departure warnings, and collision mitigation systems, among others. Many school buses across the country even have seat belts, either two-point lap belts, or, more recently, three-point lap/shoulder belts.
“We are seeing a growing number of school systems and their private sector service providers incorporate lap/shoulder belts on their school buses,” continued Hollander. “But even without seat belts, school buses are the safest form of transportation to school because of a unique form of ‘automatic’ passenger protection called compartmentalization – meaning high-backed, closely spaced, well-padded, energy-absorbing seating specifically designed to protect children. This engineering concept is among the best safety innovations ever and contributes significantly to the excellent safety record of large school buses.”
School buses are built for durability and safety but there’s another significant, invaluable reason school buses are so safe – the professional men and women who drive them.
All school bus drivers must have a Class B or C Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) with a P (passenger) and S (school bus) endorsement on that license. They are subject to random testing for drug or alcohol misuse, and commonly a driving record check and the same checks for criminal history as teachers and others who have regular contact with children.
“School bus drivers today must undergo extensive training to drive safely, as well as to monitor and protect the students onboard,” said Keith Henry, President of the National Association for Pupil Transportation.
Most school bus drivers must successfully complete a pre-service training course, including classroom instruction and behind the wheel training.
Beyond safety, riding the school bus is good for the environment. Every bus on the road replaces up to 36 passenger cars that would otherwise be on the road each morning and afternoon transporting students. The environmental benefit of school buses increases every year through the use alternative fuels like propane, compressed natural gas, electric or hybrid power.
“School buses are not just a safe, environmentally-friendly and convenient way to get to school, but a vital instrument in keeping our children in the classroom and improving our education system,” said Todd Monteferrario, President of the National School Transportation Association. “For many students, the school bus is the only way that they can get to and from school safely. We encourage parents to remember that the big yellow bus is the safest and smartest choice when available.”
ASBC is a coalition of public and private transportation providers, school bus manufacturers and state officials responsible for pupil transportation. The Council’s members include NAPT (National Association for Pupil Transportation), NASDPTS (National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services), NSTA (National School Transportation Association), Blue Bird Corp. of Fort Valley, Georgia, IC Bus Corporation of Lisle, Illinois, and Thomas Built Buses of High Point, North Carolina.