Bus safety and student behavior have always been a topic of controversy. Students are loud, throw trash and fight. These are just a few reasons for distraction among bus drivers. So, the question arises, what can students and bus drivers do to improve the bus ride to and from school?
“The first thing we have to learn is every inch of the bus,” said Anita Jackson, Lowndes County Schools bus driver. “We have to remember that safety is first and we also have to remember that whatever the kids do to distract us we have to pay attention to driving.”
Annually, traffic crashes result in about 30,000 deaths while only six school-age children die as a passenger on a school bus. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that school buses are seven times safer than cars or trucks making buses the safest method for school transportation. Even though, students on the bus can make it unsafe by distracting the driver by being loud, throwing things or blocking the back window.
“We can’t get distracted which is not always an easy task, no doubt,” said Jackson. “You have to separate yourself from the fighting, the fussing, the cursing, the disrespect, the loudness and whatever it is that is distracting you and you have to stay focused.”
Nationwide, 25 million students rely on the bus for transportation to and from school, in turn this keeps approximately 17 million cars away from schools. Less cars means more room for buses and a smaller window of opportunity for students to be involved in a wreck.
“There are about 50 buses that come in and out of Lowndes High every day,” said Tonya Brown, freshman academy administrator. “There’s about 17 or 18 from every middle school and the others are special needs buses. At least two-thirds of our students ride buses, so if we have 3000 students that’s 2000 students on buses.”
Since student behavior is a large reason for bus driver distraction, rules and proper punishment for these rules is crucial. On the other hand, positive reinforcement for things done right by students should also be implemented. This will increase the chance of these actions being repeated. Driving a bus with up to 90 passengers can be frustrating at times, strive to stay calm.
“In my experience through the last eight or nine years, I’ve learned each day is going to be different,” said Jackson. “Not every day is the same, you have to deal with different personalities and different situations.”