Bus Safety Essays

School Bus Safety Essay

According to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, since 1996, an estimated 1, 387 crashes were school-transportation related. This indicates that despite increased education, harsher laws for DWIs and similar crimes, and new slogans splayed on billboards and television ads such as “don’t drink and drive” and “buckle up”, these have largely fallen on deaf ears. A popular cartoon, The Simpsons illustrates this point best with Otto, the bus driver, often neglecting stop signs, driving wildly, and even having his license revoked. Current vehicle accidents could easily be avoided even if you have Otto as your bus driver, especially incidents relating to school-transportation if emergency procedures were followed and implemented. Thus, when we examine the topic of “Emergency Procedures, What do All School Bus Riders Need to Know?” we must first look at emergency bus evacuations drills, secondly how to use emergency equipment, and lastly, what to do in the event that a bus driver is incapacitated.

Recently at my high school due to new Texas Legislation entitled “School Bus Emergency Evacuation Training” amending Sec. 34.0021, we had a school-wide training session for both teachers and students regarding emergency procedures. This effectively ensured that during necessary evacuation drills, the entire student body and faculty would be able to leave and enter school buses in an orderly manner. All school bus riders were required to do two different drills once we left the school. The first drill consisted of the first half of the bus leaving through the double-doors next to the bus driver and the second half of the bus sitting and scooting out the emergency exit. The second drill entailed all persons on the bus sitting and scooting from the rear emergency exit with necessary assistance to those hindered by crutches or other impediments. Although these drills may have seemed repetitive and downright unnecessary, tragic accidents such as the one that occurred on September 21, 1989 have been avoided. In Alton, Texas, a Coca-Cola delivery truck collided with a school bus over a bridge resulting in the total blockage of the front door and only one rear emergency exit. On a bus with 81 students, 21 died from drowning and three received major injuries. Unfortunately, laws set in place in 1989 did not mandate more emergency doors, but today’s generation seems to take these and other precautions for granted.

In addition to more emergency doors and a limited occupancy on the bus, knowledge of where safety equipment is located and...

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Do you ride a school bus? If not now, did you ever ride the bus to and from school? What is behavior like on your bus? What, if anything, would you change about the experience of riding the bus?

In the Opinion essay “‘I Wish I Had a Pair of Scissors, So I Could Cut Out Your Tongue,’” which gets its title from a threat made by an older boy to a five-year-old while they were riding on a school bus together in New York City, Alina Simone writes:

At a time of hypervigilant parenting and wearable GPS trackers for kids, the school bus remains one of the black boxes of childhood. In what other situation would parents allow dozens of kids, ranging from 4 to 13, to look after themselves, with the only adult in earshot focused on navigating a six-wheeler through rush hour traffic?

... According to Lois Herrera, the chief executive of the city’s Office of Safety and Youth Development, bullying on the bus is not a major concern: Only 40 cases were reported last year, and 16 so far this year.

Really? For the 150,000 students riding public school buses every day?

These numbers differ starkly from what national data tells us. A 2011 survey conducted by the National Education Association showed that half of school bus drivers regularly witness bullying. Another study, based on a review of surveillance-camera footage taken during 30 school bus rides, found an average of two bullying incidents per commute.

New York State’s education department has been called out for underreporting bullying before. Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman pointed out that, despite requirements to track bullying, more than half of New York City schools reported zero cases.

Besides enforcing real reporting, how can we prevent bullying on buses? Joshua Hendrix, a criminologist at RTI International, is researching what kinds of interventions schools think work best. “Bus attendants basically rank No. 1,” he says, followed by “the use of security cameras, having the option for drivers to pull over, and different types of bonding strategies in which drivers and students are encouraged to get to know one another.”

Students: Read the entire essay, then tell us:

— To what degree, if at all, are your own experiences with school buses reflected in the essay? Explain.

— What is the general attitude toward the bus at your school?

— How do you pass the time on the school bus? Or, if you get to and from school some other way, do you think your current mode of transportation is better or worse than riding a bus?

— Are there specific rules on your bus? If so, do people follow them? What happens if a student breaks a school bus rule?

— Do you think bullying is more likely or less likely to occur on a school bus than on school grounds? Why?

— The essay mentions a number of suggestions that have been made to address bullying on school buses. What do you think of these suggestions? Do they work—or could they, if they were put in place?

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