Bullies on the Bus

When a School bus driver looks in their mirror, they see the most important reason to drive safe, the students. Driving a vehicle that is on average 30-40 feet long and 7-8 feet across is a tremendous responsibility; even more so when it is transporting approximately 70 children.

Now, imagine when sitting in the driver’s seat of a bus, you hear shouting coming from behind you, so you look in your mirror. You see two children, one is hitting and the other being hit. The first thing you think to do is say, “Stop!” but they can’t hear you over the noise of the other students. Bringing your eyes back to the road you see a red light, and you nearly drove through it. The potential to make mistakes when your attention is pulled away from the road exists.

Bullying on a school bus is more than dangerous, it can be deadly. The above scenario is from a movie on bullying called “Tears on the Highway.” In the movie, the bus actually goes through the red light and is hit by another vehicle causing severe injuries for many students. Things happen in the bus, just like they happen in every neighborhood and in every lunchroom. Some of what happens is actually bullying. Every year, students are bullied and every year the bullying gets worse.  Drivers can take an active part in preventing bullying by reporting any and every incident. By doing this and other things, to avoid a situation like the one described above.

There are many students on the bus each and every day, so not all incidents are witnessed by the school bus driver. If parents or a child are having a problem, they need to let the driver know.

Thank You,

In the Danger Zone

In the image above is an overview of the danger zone surrounding a school bus.

The danger zone is an area where either the bus driver is unable to clearly see the student or where the student is not clearly visible to a passing vehicle. This area is to be avoided as much as possible. The name “Danger Zone” is used just to make people aware of the possible risks
and to remind people to be careful.

One woman, school bus driver Gloria Buley, thought that she could lessen the risk of the danger zone by adding an extra mirror to buses. This mirror allowed the drivers to see roughly fifteen feet more in the danger zone! Also, to deter other motor vehicles from passing on the right, there is a stop sign on the back of the mirror. This mirror folds out when the school bus door is opened, and has a quick release for emergency situations.  More has been done with mirror design to continue improvements since then as we continue to be aware of those “danger zones”.


Do You Wave?

When I was in elementary school, the first thing I did after boarding the bus, was turn around and wave goodbye, knowing that someone would always be there to wave back. Over the years, I stopped waving, and eventually I stopped looking back altogether. When I saw this father’s story, it reminded me of when I used to look forward to seeing someone wave at me on the bus. It also made me smile and want to share it with the readers of this blog.

In the Image is Dale Price, day 2 of waving at the bus…

Dale Price, spent this last school year waving at his 10th-grade son as he rides by on the bus. It started as a joke, just to embarrass his son. After he saw how people reacted, he was encouraged to keep going, and he did. The next day, Dale stood on the porch in a Chargers’ helmet and jersey, just to wave at his son’s bus. After that, he would get up early, and put on a different costume each time to wave as the bus drove by his home. This went on all year, 170 days! I am very impressed by this father’s effort to both amuse and embarrass his son. After awhile he started to get more attention, was in the news, on a radio show, and now his story is nationwide! There is a blog with pictures of all his costumes if you are interested in being amused, the website is: www.waveatthebus.blogspot.com.

Thank You,

Heros on the Bus!

Over the last few years, certain people’s courage is still inspiring and they deserve to be recognized for it.

-Kim Dahl:  she was the driver of the school bus that teetered on the edge of a bridge. She stayed alone on the bus, holding it in place while all the student and chaperons exited the bus. That included her then ten-year-old daughter and five-year-old son, who exited just before their mother, and after everyone else had. From that incident she received a broken back; still she saved everyone on that bus, and she lived to see more days too.

-Susan Swartwood:  she was driving the bus when a student alerted her that another student was having a seizure. Being a registered nurse, she went back and instructed a junior to help lower the girl onto the floor. The driver put a pillow under the girl’s head and told the student that had alerted her to use the radio to contact the bus garage. The student provided the location, updates on the girl’s condition and asked for an ambulance. While this was going on another student was directing traffic from inside the back of the bus.

-Sherman:  she was driving her bus on a two-lane road while a truck hauling timber on the other side of the road was getting closer. She noticed the log shift just as the truck was about to pass. The log then fell off the trailer and crashed through the bus windshield, striking Sherman in the face and breaking her jaw, also causing some spinal damage. Even after that happened she still managed to drive the bus to the side of the road, put on the brake, and wait for a co-worker to arrive before passing out. The first thing she spoke of when she awoke in the hospital were the students, and only one student was slightly injured by the glass.

There are so many awesome people who have done some amazing, and selfless things involving a school bus, we commend each and every one who drives a school bus for their dedication to safety.

Thank you,

A New Reason for Drivers to be Healthy?

We believe that sitting around and doing nothing all day is unhealthy. It just makes common sense, but what if I told you it has been proven?

In a recent 14-year study, it was found that sitting for long periods of time can raise the mortality rate of a person. This Study started with 53,000 men and 70,000 women. At the start of the study all of the people were disease-free.

Over the span of this study, 11,300 of the men died and 8,000 women. Isn’t that startling? They found that sitting for more that six hours a day will raise the mortality rate of a person. More so for men than for women.

I found this information to be very interesting. I knew that being sedentary was bad, but I didn’t know just how bad it really was or really could be.

I just thought I would let you know about this study and how sitting too much may affect you.

Thank you.

In the News…

In the news….

A man in Ohio is pitching in and helping children in his neighborhood. He noticed that the children were waiting for the bus while cars were rushing by. He decided to step up and take action.

Since the bus stops in front of his house, he built a little stop for them. It has a bench and even some landscaping. This setup has had great reviews by the people in his neighborhood.

“People who live in the community should do things for the children” says Collier.

We want to recognize this man and use him as an example. He went beyond what was asked of him. He did something for the children and their safety.

What can you do for the children in your neighborhood?

Residents can take turns watching the kids at the stop. It is easy and it will reduce any risks that could be present.

Thank you.

The Year – Begins with Tags and Bags

Every year there’s excitement when school starts.  The last few weeks of summer, especially the days following Open Houses, are extremely busy at any bus company and are especially busy because of the extra things that are done for students.

Over the years, I’ve observed problems specific to school transportation.  The biggest obstacle to any transportation program involving students is the youth and the inexperience of our youngest riders.  These five-year old first-time commuters face a daunting challenge the moment they approach the bus for their first bus ride:  the huge stairs lead them on board a vehicle driven by a Stranger.  They’re brave little souls; not many of them hesitate very long when it’s time to take those huge steps.  Of course it helps that many of them participate in pre-school year Kindergarten round up programs during which they may get an opportunity to take a first ride with their parents and teachers.

An even bigger challenge: efficiently transporting these young students to and from home without flaw when not yet knowing their names and haven’t yet mastered which one belongs where. It would be enough of a challenge if every student went to the same stop every day, but they don’t.  Many of them have home and daycare options and others have Mom’s home and Dad’s home options.

There was a breaking moment for me.  I was in the loading zone at an elementary school one afternoon and a young man didn’t know what to do.  He wasn’t sure which bus to ride, we didn’t yet know his name, and he looked scared.  I asked him his name and he started to cry.  It was all I could do not to sit down next to him and cry too.  We found out who he was and got him on the correct bus and he made it home safely – as is usually the case.  But I left the loading zone determined to find a better solution, and we did.

Each of the Kindergarten students receive a tag in their Kindergarten classroom.  On the tag is a picture of the student requested the last spring at Kindergarten Round-Up and again at Kindergarten Count-Down.  The student’s first and last name, teacher’s name, drop-off location, and bus number also appear on the tag.

Since we’ve been using the tags, we’ve increased our success with Kindergarten students a hundred fold.  Now when a need to communicate with one of these small people, just need to take a quick peek at the tag.  Addressing them by name immediately calms their fears.  After all, they must think, “If she knows my name, she probably knows where I go.”  We haven’t had anymore tears in the loading zones!

Subsequently, we extended our tag system to older elementary students.  For the first week of school, students are required to wear a tag with their pm bus number on it.  The bus drivers check the tags as they enter the buses.  Any student without a tag will be sent to an adult for bus number verification before entering the bus.

And if the tag is incorrect?  Well, at least when we look up the student’s name in the database, we all know the student is on the listed bus or no bus at all.  It makes things far more organized and simple at the end of those first days of school.

Our middle school students are each assigned a teacher, and that teacher will have a list of their bus numbers and a map of the parking order.  They’re too old for labels, but still confused at the end of the day when they walk out to the loading zone and see 18 buses, all yellow and black.  It’s enough to make anyone forget a number!

Our high school students don’t really think about the bus until it’s time to board it the first afternoon.  We tried a new process; we emailed the school principals a list that can be forwarded to their teachers to check bus numbers near the end of the day – and included a copy of the parking map.

We hope we’ve covered the bases.

One final note:  buses may run late the first couple days of school.  There are lots of reasons for it – in the morning parents want to take pictures and give lingering hugs; in the afternoon we spend a little extra time in loading zones making sure everyone gets on the right bus and at bus stops making sure everyone gets off at the right stops.

Safe Driving!

What Parents Hope to Expect!

We challenge drivers and management to hold to these high standards that parents hope to expect!

Expect that we will communicate with you to the best of our ability.

Expect us to partner with you when we encounter behavior problems.

Expect us to be punctual.

Expect us to care for your child like you do.

Expect us to listen when you have a concern.

Expect us to be appreciative when you have a compliment.

Other expectations go without saying:  expect bus operators to hire professional, safe, courteous drivers.  Expect us to serve our community when and how we can.  Expect us, always, to be the best we can be everyday.  Expect us to always strive for excellence – not mere compliance.

Safe Driving!

The Hazards of Spring

Several years ago this month our community experienced the tragic deaths of three students riding one of our buses. I remember those students and their families every day, but most especially at this time of year.

Our community is not alone in experiencing tragedies in the spring of the year. The Kansas Department of Education presents a new study every year about school bus fatalities. The most recent report encompasses 38 years of data and the conclusions are as follows:

  • During the last 38 years, 57.4% of students killed in school bus-related crashes were killed by their own bus.
  • For 2007-2008, that statistic fell to 20% of fatalities caused by the school bus and 80% by passing motorists.
  • 66.1% of all fatalities occurred on the way home from school.
  • Most of the fatally-injured students were girls.
  • 55.6% of the fatally-injured students were between the ages of 5 and 7 (67% were between the ages of 2 and 8) and another 21.2% were between the ages of 10 and 14.
  • Thursdays are the most dangerous day of the week.
  • Most fatal injuries occur between March and September.

Increased driver education, better technology, and smarter riders have dramatically reduced the incident of fatal injury; of the 45 fatalities since 2004, there were 5 students critically injured in the most recent year. To put the figures in perspective, consider that 800 students were fatally injured in other vehicles (the family car, a friend’s truck, etc.) during the school bus commute hours of 6-9 am and 2-5 pm. Clearly, the school bus is a safe place for students.

Still, five students were fatally injured. How to we prevent those types of injuries?

  1. We must expect drivers be consistent when approaching a school bus stop, using warning and stop signals appropriately.
  2. We must require drivers be vigilant at all times when students are outside the bus, whether approaching or leaving.
  3. We must require that drivers’ attention be solely focused on activity outside the bus rather than activity inside the bus.
  4. We must expand and repeat public education so motorists understand to STOP and STAY STOPPED when red lights flash.
  5. We must teach our students to remain out of the roadway until the driver signals them to approach.
  6. We must teach our students to exit the bus and walk immediately to their own driveway or designated safe location, again watching for the driver’s signal.
  7. We must expect law enforcement to ticket people who fail to obey stop arm signals.

We must expect the judicial branch to penalize those people who appear in court.
There are very few instances in life when there is no room for error. These critical seconds our students are outside their buses is one such instance!

Safe Driving!