Monday, August 06, 2007

Officials stressing student safety on buses

Soon the annual flood of yellow school buses will pour onto local roads as thousands of children begin their daily transport to and from school.

Last school year brought headlines about a handful of dangerous school bus incidents in Kentucky and Ohio that area school officials say have prompted them to stress student safety this school year.

"Our bus drivers steer a 38-foot-long, $70,000 vehicle loaded with the most precious cargo on earth - our children," says Tracey Carson, spokeswoman for Mason schools in Warren County (OH).

"The first and last people our students see to and from school is their school bus driver. These drivers are an integral part of our formula for successful schools," Carson added. "Our drivers' desire for safety is paramount, and they spend countless hours training and maintaining our fleet. We're very fortunate to have the drivers we do."

But as more than 1.6 million students in Ohio and Kentucky climb aboard for the start of the school year, education officials advise parents to make their children aware of some simple rules and practices to make sure their ride is safe and pleasant.

Eighty percent of Ohio students ride school buses each school day, and nearly 17,000 bus drivers, mechanics, secretaries and supervisors are dedicated to providing safe transportation for your children, according to J.C. Benton, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Education.

Benton says national studies show school buses are the safest method for transporting young people - 30 times safer than passenger cars. And recent reports by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Academy of Sciences have reconfirmed that statistic.

"However, accidents can happen. Most student accidents involving school buses occur in the 'danger zone,' a 10-foot perimeter around the bus, especially near the front and the right rear tire," Benton says.

Lisa Gross, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Education, says more than half of the state's 650,000 students ride about 9,800 buses each school day.

"School buses are some of the safest modes of transportation," Gross said. "With the intensive training and monitoring by this agency and local school districts, school bus drivers are experts in maneuvering their large vehicles in urban traffic, suburban streets and country roads. School transportation is a key to learning - if you're not at school, you aren't being taught." ...

This from the Cincinnati Enquirer.

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