• 68°

Safety matters

JCS stresses importance of bus safety, precautions

 

The Kentucky Department of Education and the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety recently released a variety of materials on the importance of school bus safety in the upcoming school year.

Last April, drivers allegedly and illegally passed 726 school buses which were loading and unloading students; and according to the data released, more students were injured getting on or off the school bus than at any other time during their ride to and from school.

“With the start of the school year, there will be a lot more traffic on the roadways,” Officer Chris Cain with the Nicholasville Police Department said. “It is important that we all keep in mind that school buses are transporting our children and we should pay extra attention to their movements. We need to give the buses plenty of room to turn and to make their stops. At the start of every school year, we deal with a lot of complaints about bus arm violations. Drivers need to be aware of the frequent stops these buses make, and be ready to stop so we can make sure all of our students get on and off the bus safely.”

Patrice Jones, director of public relations for Jessamine County Schools, stated on average, JCS buses transport 5,00 students and travel a collective 6,500 miles on a daily basis. According to the Transportation Research Board, school buses, she said, are 13 times safer than non-commercial vehicles, including the family car.

“More recent advancements in technology enable our district to provide additional services that improve the transportation experience for our students and their families,” Jones said. “Our buses are also equipped with a digital video system which enhances bus security, discourages vandalism and assists with the resolution of disciplinary issues.”

Jones said JCS uses Infofinderi.com, a tool which helps families locate bus route information including bus numbers and pick up and drop off times. The tool can be accessed from the district website, www.jessamine.kyschools.us.

“Students and their families also have a role in bus safety,” Jones said. “Parents can help by teaching their child to take particular care in the ‘safety zone.’”

The safety zone, Jones said, is ten feet in front of the bus, ten feet on both sides and the area behind the bus.  These areas are known to be where children are in the most danger of not being seen by the bus driver.  Jones also stated, students should stand 10 to 12 feet from the edge of the road while waiting for the bus, and should always check both ways for cars before stepping off the bus. They should also cross in front of the bus, never cross behind, and while riding should always stay seated and follow the driver’s instructions.

Drivers of other vehicles on the roadway should also always obey bus warnings which include lights and signage, Jones said. Obeying these things will help ensure students are able to enter and exit the bus safely.

“State law requires that on a roadway with less than four lanes, all traffic in both directions must come to a halt while a school bus is stopped with the stop arm extended and wait until the sign is withdrawn and the bus begins moving before motorists move their vehicles,” Jones said.

The team of transportation professionals at JCS must obtain a commercial driver’s license, complete 50 hours of specialized training, with an additional eight hours of training annually. Drivers also receive classroom and behind-the-wheel training in three areas which include student loading/unloading procedures, student behavior management and emergency medical procedures. This, Jones said, makes the biggest difference with their daily commitment to keeping students safe while traveling to and from school

“This year, our transportation employees also received training on the positive behavioral interventions and supports framework,” Jones said. “(This) is a system that focuses on teaching positive and appropriate behavior and proactively using education to prevent misbehavior rather than punishing misbehavior.”

At JCS, Jones said, transportation personnel and students also perform four bus evacuation drills each year.

“I would say that the keyword is awareness when dealing with a school bus,” Cain said.

“Parents transporting their own children to and from school should leave their houses with time to spare in order to get to school safely and on time. The roadways will be busy, and everyone will need to have patience for the first few weeks until traffic normalizes.”