National School Bus Safety Week, scheduled October 17-21 this year, is a public education program that promotes school bus safety.
Nationally, each day about 450,000 school buses travel the nation’s roads transporting about 24,000,000 students to and from schools and school-related activities. This makes school buses the largest mass transportation program in the nation.
In Maine there are about 3,000 school buses traveling about 30,000,000 miles per year and delivering about 140,000 students. While national ridership of school buses is at 50 percent, about 80 percent of Maine students ride the school bus. Local school transportation teams throughout the Maine will educate the public about school bus safety and local transportation safety training during National School Bus Safety Week.
Transportation is the great equalizer in education, providing students from all economic backgrounds with the opportunity to learn and succeed. Additionally, as pointed out by Dr. Mark Rosekind of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration U.S. Department of Transportation, “School buses are by far the safest way for children to get to and from school.”
School buses are specifically designed and engineered for safety in order to protect occupants against crashes and incidents on the road. Nearly every part of a school bus has higher standards of safety when compared to ordinary cars. The following school bus safety features are not found on any other passenger vehicle:
- School bus seats are above the crash line so that the impact of a vehicle colliding with a school bus hits beneath the seated passengers
- Passenger seating and crash protection are required for school bus seating systems
- A steel cage around the fuel tank that provides bus fuel system integrity
- Emergency exits are provided by way of doors, windows and roof hatches
- Bus body joint strength that specifies the minimum strength of the joints between panels of the bus body and the body structure
- Rollover protection that specifies the minimum structural strength of buses in rollover-type crashes
In addition to school bus safety design, State-level school bus safety laws support good driving behavior. In Maine these laws include:
- Passing a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing is a criminal violation punishable by a $311 minimum fine for the first offense and a mandatory license suspension for the second offense.
- A vehicle may not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or until signaled by the bus operator that it is okay to proceed.
- A school bus operator who observes someone illegally passing a stopped school bus can report violations to a law enforcement officer.
- School buses are required to stop at railroad crossings.
- Unless otherwise posted, the school zone speed limit is 15 miles per hour during school opening or closing hours, as well as recess.
The National School Bus Safety Week public education program is sponsored by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS), National School Transportation Association (NSTA), National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT), Pupil Transportation Safety Institute (PTSI) and school bus manufacturers and suppliers.
More information about National School Bus Safety Week can be found here.
For information about school transportation policy contact Transportation and Facilities Administrator Pat Hinckley at firstname.lastname@example.org