Marshalltown school bus

Written by Director of Transportation Rex Kozak

There is so much more to bus safety than just getting on the bus and riding to school.  Everyone in the community has a shared responsibility to help ensure that the school bus continues to be one of the safest ways to transport students. 

Transporting students safely starts with the school transportation department, making sure that all buses are running properly and appropriately equipped to ensure the bus is safe.  Routes are developed to ensure safety by placing stops in the correct locations for loading and unloading students.  Some stops are at the students' homes, and other stops are for group loading. It is all based on the age of the student and the number of students in the area who will be riding the same bus.  Routes are developed for direct busing from the pickup location to the school of attendance and back home in a timely manner.

The students are the second group responsible for the safety on the bus.  There are rules and guidelines on the bus that students are asked to follow.  Student behavior on the bus has a major impact on the environment and safety of the bus.  When the students are very noisy, inappropriate language, not staying seated, throwing things out the windows or at each other, and fighting are all distractions for the driver and cause the driver to take his or her eyes off the road.  The more distracted the driver becomes, the greater the risk of something happening.  There are cameras on the buses to help determine who is doing what so the driver can stay focused on the road.  Students are given assigned seats to help the driver know who they are and student behaviors.  When students ride school buses equipped with seatbelts, they are expected to put them on and leave them on for the duration of the bus ride. 

The most important group in the safety of our students on the buses are the other drivers on the road.  All drivers really need to pay attention when approaching a bus, slow down when the yellow lights are flashing, and stop when the red eight-way lights are flashing and the stop arm is out.  No injury to a child or any other person is worth running a school bus stop arm.  There is nothing that is important to cause someone to run the stop arm of the school bus when most stops are 30 seconds or less.  Unfortunately, people are willing to pass a stopped school bus on the left or right of the bus with no idea if someone is getting on or off the bus.  Drivers will pass a stopped school bus from behind, not knowing if a student is about to walk out in front of them.

Safety is not just a word; it is the practice of doing the right thing.  Being responsible is the key for everyone in keeping our students on buses safe.  Knowing and following the rules is everyone’s responsibility, whether you are on the bus or driving a vehicle that meets or passes a bus.  Your actions to ignore the rules or expectations may be what results in someone getting hurt or worse.  So, for safety, follow the rules and expectations no matter who you are.