Know the Facts: Bus Safety FAQs
School bus transportation is not only a direct link between home and the classroom for many of our students, but also the safest, most economical, most environmentally-friendly way to transport students to and from school each day (National Association for Pupil Transportation). The Roaring Fork Schools considers the safety of its students a top priority and wants you to know how we are keeping students safe on our buses.
Q. How do buses keep students safe in the case of an accident?
A. Buses are carefully designed to keep kids safe. After decades of research, the National Highway Safety Administration has determined that compartmentalization is safer for transporting all ages and sizes of students than seatbelts. Compartmentalization works like an egg crate: the high seat backs covered with high-density foam, the close spacing of the seats, the padded low-height overhead luggage racks, and the narrow center aisle work together to compartmentalize riders to keep students in a safe, protected envelope during rough road conditions or in an accident. In the case of unexpected turbulence or impact, the student’s body moves naturally inside this confined space, and all the energy is absorbed by the many padded surfaces that they encounter.
Q. Why don’t buses have seat belts?
In comparison to compartmentalization, lap belts absorb the energy of an impact and force the student’s torso into a whiplash motion, and shoulder belts apply pressure to the neck of smaller children. Additionally, compartmentalization works regardless of the size of the rider or their level of active participation in the system. For seat belts to be effective, bus drivers would need to physically check that every seat belt is fastened, adjusted to each individual student, and remains fastened to ensure student safety. In comparison, compartmentalization simply requires that students be seated facing forward, which can easily be checked and verbally corrected. Seatbelts only work if used correctly, but the safety containment protection provided by compartmentalization always works!
Q. Does the design of school buses matter? How does it compare to other vehicles?
A. School buses are built with many enhanced safety features that surpass the standards of any other vehicle on the planet. The robust frame and solid steel body are designed for maximum occupant protection. These features, along with the high-visibility yellow coloring, the large and numerous flashing red lights, the automatically activated stop sign, and the seven driver mirrors work to ensure that school buses not only have the lowest accident rate of any vehicle, but also result in fewer injuries to the students.
Q. What is the bus driver’s role in student safety?
A. The ultimate safety feature on the bus is the driver. Roaring Fork School bus drivers undergo rigorous training, testing, and evaluation during their initial licensing process and then annually. Every driver is absolutely dedicated to the safety of their passengers and is constantly self-evaluating and being evaluated by their supervisors on the operation of their bus and their student management techniques. Every day, each and every school bus driver performs two detailed safety inspections of their bus. Mechanics are on standby to immediately fix safety and operational problems and extra buses are always available to substitute for buses that are not safe to transport students for even the most minor mechanical reason.
Q. How do school bus drivers ensure bullying doesn’t happen on the school bus?
A. The district's anti-bullying policy is fully enforced on school buses. Drivers are regularly trained on student management practices. The transportation department works closely with each school on a case-by-case basis for individual student discipline and recognition. Violations of any of the district's student behavior policies are corrected on the bus or with the parents and principals involvement for more serious violations. Each bus is equipped with two cameras that record all activity inside the buses. This tool has proved helpful in student management cases. Our drivers also work with school principals to recognize exemplary student bus riders through the presentation of certificates, awards, prizes, gift certificates and newsletter shout outs. Recently two bicycles and four sets of sports equipment were awarded to the district winners of a school bus safety poster contest conducted in the elementary schools.
Q. What other benefits are there to school bus transportation?
A. School buses keep over 17 million cars off roads each year, saving families $2.6 billion in fuel and preventing 56.5 billion pounds of CO2 from entering the environment. This will be incredibly important during the Grand Avenue Bridge closure during the fall of 2017.