School Bus Safety Begins Before Your Child Steps on Board
By Andrew Ryan / October 1, 2017
Parents nationwide draw a collective breath whenever a school bus accident makes news headlines. Each accident also invariably renews the years-long debate on whether to equip school buses with seat belts - except in Florida and five other states that have already enacted seat belt regulations. Beyond reminding them to buckle their seat belts, there are other steps you can take to help keep your kids safe.
"Parents and guardians should make sure their kids know the names of the schools they attend, as well as their bus route numbers, bus stop locations and bus arrival times," said Patricia Snell, Director, Student Transportation and Fleet Services Department for Broward District Schools. "Take children to their bus stops and make sure they are able to recognize (them) when they are riding home after school."
Florida law requires each school bus passenger to wear a properly adjusted belt, but note that seat belts are not available on all of the more than 1,200 buses that comprise the district's fleet.
The law states that, "each school bus that is purchased new after December 31, 2000, and used to transport students in grades pre-K through 12 must be equipped with safety belts or with any other restraint system approved by the Federal Government."
However, that does not apply to buses purchased before the cut-off date.
There will be 105 buses without lap belts after all new buses are placed in service for the 2017-18 school year. Snell adds that the district is working to install seat belts on all buses.
"The District is currently replacing the older fleet," she said. "The District purchased 180 new buses this year and additional new buses will be added to the fleet as capital dollars become available."
Teach your kids to respect the bus drivers the same as they do the teachers and other school officials. "The bus stop and the school bus are considered an extension of the classroom, and students are expected to observe the same code of discipline expected in the school classroom," Snell said.
For parents who may fondly recall bus rides with loud music blaring from boom boxes, the times have decidedly changed. Today, listening to music requires headphones plugged into a personal device.
For a comprehensive set of safety recommendations and lists of what can (and cannot) be brought on board a bus, including music instruments and sports equipment, visit the Broward District Schools web site at pupiltrans.org/Do's&Don't.html.
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