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Yellow school buses are a great American success story, with a safety record that is unequaled in the transportation industry.
School bus drivers are an integral part of the safe transportation of school children.
The largest and safest transportation system in the United States is public school buses. Yet crashes involving school buses always make the news. Fortunately, almost all school bus crashes are minor, and if there are injuries, typically it's to the occupants of the other vehicles.
National statistics have shown that school bus transportation is the safest way in transporting your child. Fatal crashes involving school bus occupants are extremely rare events, even though school buses serve daily in every community - a remarkable 8.8 billion students to and from school annually. Every school day, some 450,000 yellow school buses transport more than 24 million children to and from school and school-related activities. Another way to give perspective to the huge magnitude of pupil transportation is equivalent to the populations of Florida, Massachusetts and Oregon. Students ride on a school bus every day - almost always without a serious incident.
Our goal here at the Humboldt Unified School District is to help keep our Department of Transportation Services at the highest of school bus transportation.
Why don't school buses have seat belts?
School buses are the safest way to transport your children to and from school. The color and size of school buses make them easily visible and identifiable, their height provides good driver visibility and raises the bus passenger compartment above car impact height, and emergency vehicles are the only other vehicle on the road that can stop the traffic like a school bus can.
School buses are carefully designed on a different transportation and protection model than the average passenger car. The children are protected like eggs in an egg carton - compartmentalized and surrounded with padding and structural integrity to secure the entire container. The seatbacks are raised and the shell is reinforced for protection against impact.
There are other differences to consider between your car and your child's school bus. In your car, you can supervise your child and ensure that your child's belt remains properly secure. School buses use what is called "passive restraint," meaning all a child must do to be protected is simply sit down in a seat. School buses also must be designed to be multi-purpose, fitting everything from a six-year-old to an 18-year-old senior on the high school football team in full uniform. Sometimes it's two to a seat, other times three. Because of this, emphasis is placed on protecting the entire valuable cargo.
The school bus looks like it's hardly changed in decades. Where's the modernization?
Although school buses have been the safest mode of transportation on the road for decades, the school bus industry is continuously working on new technology and safety features to make our children as safe as possible.
School buses have remained distinctive in color and basic shape for years - preserving their easy identification by the rest of our communities. However, beneath this familiar shape is a modern generation of a school bus with dozens of improvements. New buses regularly incorporate new safety features, all designed with the goal of keeping our children safe. You may not see all of them, as improvements are constantly being made both internally and externally with each new model. Different buses from different manufacturers will include different new features, but some examples are:
"Sleeping child alarm" in the rear of the bus guarantees the driver checks each seat at the end of his or her route.
New designs of the front windows, mirrors and the driver's seat location give drivers a better view of the road and of students.
Reinforced side panels resist side impacts.
Higher seat-backs increase the effectiveness of passenger protection.
High visibility exterior markings to increase traffic awareness.
How are school bus drivers trained?
School bus drivers are the most highly trained, tested and scrutinized drivers on the road. All school bus drivers must obtain a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) and must pass written and skills tests to obtain a School Bus Endorsement.
Before receiving their license and Arizona School Bus Driver Certification, drivers receive specialized classroom and behind-the-wheel training in driving a school bus, student loading/unloading procedures, student evacuation, student behavior and security management, and emergency medical procedures. School bus drivers are carefully monitored by the school district to ensure that they continue to meet strict safety standards.
In addition, all school bus drivers are required to participate in random and post-accident drug and alcohol testing, undergo frequent driving record checks, and pass periodic medical exams to ensure they are physically qualified. All drivers must pass background checks prior to employment.
How can I be sure that my child is safe from bullying on the bus?
The Humboldt Unified School District is concerned about bullying on school buses, just as our educators are concerned with bullying in the classroom. School bus drivers are being trained with new techniques to manage student behavior and are partnering with school administrators to address the issue. All HUSD school buses are equipped with cameras to help with identification and resolution of problems.
What kinds of regulations must school buses abide by?
School buses abide by a host of federal, state and local regulations that govern their production, maintenance and operation.
Regulations vary slightly from state to state, but certain federal guidelines ensure that every bus in every state meets high safety and upkeep requirements.
School Bus Safety Devices
Amber Warning Lights
These lamps are activated prior to the school bus stopping to load or unload students. You need to slow down and prepare to stop.
Red Warning Lights
These lamps are activated once the school bus is stopped to load or unload students. You must stop and may not pass a school bus if the red lights are activated.
Stop Arm
The stop arm is deployed when the Red Warning Lights are activated during loading and unloading. You may not pass a school bus if the stop arm is deployed. Some of our school buses are equipped with two stop arms, helping to communicate to the following motorist of the school bus being stopped.