National School Bus Safety Week

School bus in snow storm. It was still dark each morning when my brother and I ran out the door to catch the school bus. On those cold winter mornings, we would watch for the headlights of the bus at the top of the hill and then run out just in time to get on the bus. We lived in a small town and after elementary had to take the bus to Elk River. It was nine miles if you drove straight there, but for us, it was a 45-minute ride.

We were the first to get on in the morning and first off after school. Our parents left for work early in the morning so we were on our own. Without the bus, we would not have made it to school. They even had a “late bus” for kids in after school sports or other extracurricular activities. Mr. White, our bus driver, got us to school safely in all types of weather. We never got in an accident or stuck in the snow. Thank you, Mr. White!

 

The third week of October each year is National School Bus Safety Week. It is a great time to thank the bus drivers who transport our children to school safely in heavy traffic and all types of weather. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) divides bus drivers into two categories:

  1. Bus drivers, transit and intercity – 2018 Median Pay $42,080
  2. Bus drivers, school or special client – 2018 Median Pay $32,420

In 2018, there were almost 500,000 school bus drivers. In many locations, the need for drivers is greater than the supply. It is not uncommon to see signs advertising cash bonuses for new drivers. From 2018-2028, the BLS estimates that employment in this area will grow by 4 percent and that 21,600 more drivers will be needed.

School buses entering lot.

Driver Requirements

Becoming a bus driver requires some additional training and the applicant must pass the tests required by the state to earn a Class B CDL driver’s license. CDL stands for Commercial Drivers License. Many school districts or bus companies will provide the training and resources needed to prepare for the test. Getting a Class B CDL is the first step in the licensing process. Drivers also need to earn a Passenger endorsement (P) and a School Bus endorsement (S). The passenger endorsement is earned by passing a 20-30 question multiple-choice exam. The school bus endorsement requires a written and behind the wheel test. A state examiner will ride with you in the school bus as you take the driving test.

Other Requirements

Requirements will vary from state to state, but here are some of the typical requirements for becoming a school bus driver.

  • Background Check
  • Clean Driving Record
  • High School Diploma or Equivalent
  • Pass a Drug Test (This continues with random testing after you get the job)
  • Some states require that you be at least 21 years old.

Read this excellent step by step guide to becoming a bus driver posted on cdltrainingspot.com.

How Safe Are School Buses?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states on their website that the  “school bus is the safest vehicle on the road.” A United States Government Accountability Office (USGAO) report from 2017 gives the following statistic related to motor vehicle fatalities:

 

Based on GAO’s analysis of data for 2000 to 2014, 115 fatal crashes involved a
school bus on average each year—which is 0.3 percent of the 34,835 total fatal
motor-vehicle crashes on average each year

School Buses are highly regulated and must meet stricter safety standards than other types of buses. Read more about NHTSA standards on their website. According to the American School Bus Council

Students are about 70 times more likely to get to school safely if they take the
school bus instead of traveling by car.

It is estimated that it would take 17 million cars to transport all of the children who ride the school bus daily. School buses reduce traffic and pollution!

Stay Alert

Although school buses are well marked and visible and feature flashing lights and stop arms, some drivers create unsafe conditions by passing buses when they are stopped. Here is a news story posted on YouTube by KHOU 11 about this issue and the tragic results.

 

School bus safety is critical. Our children’s lives are at stake! Make it a point this week and all year to be more aware of school buses and follow the law. Traffic in both directions must stop for a school bus with flashing lights and the stop arm extended.

Thank you to all of the bus drivers doing their best to get our kids to school safely!

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