School busses head into new school year | ParkRecord.com

School busses head into new school year

Frank Fisher, of the Record staff

The school busses of parents’ generations were not necessarily the safest vehicles for kids in sudden stops. These days, busses are safer if rules are followed.

The fleet of 28 busses (six of which act as spares) is being stored in a massive garage until school begins in August. At that time 32 drivers will be ready to take the helm.

"They’re the safest vehicle type on the road," said Brent Chaston head of Park City School District transportation. Chaston, when asked if seatbelts are still being considered in busses, said it is an ongoing discussion, and that implementation would require a lap belt and shoulder harness for each child, and that children wear the belts.

"These days, seatbacks are higher than they used to be, to keep kids from going over the seats, and the seats are padded." He said that the bench seat and forward seat back provide a protective framework in the event of a sudden stop. But only if riders are seated whenever the bus is moving. He said kids are taught brace positions by drivers early on in the school year, as well as evacuation drills. Nothing should be placed in aisles, as objects could fly and hurt students in a sudden stop, or could block aisles during an emergency.

But safety isn’t only a rider problem. Chaston said that drivers have to obey laws. Drivers must stop in both directions when a bus is flashing red lights and is displaying red stop signs. "Some cars will run the red light," he said. The only time drivers going the opposite direction may proceed is on a divided highway of two lanes going each way with a center lane between.

Chaston said parents should make a rule of having their kids are at the bus stop five minutes in advance. He said kids in a hurry may run into the street to catch a leaving bus. This will also stop parents and their kids running behind the bus, trying to make the next stop, which he said occasionally happens until the driver sees them tagging behind.

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Some of the worst offenders of running lights, and a serious threat to kids outside of a bus, according to Chaston, are cyclists who "sometimes feel they don’t have to stop. They have to obey the laws too."

Visibility of kids in dark, fall mornings can be a danger for students, and Chaston recommends they wear light color clothing, even better, items that are reflective. School bus drivers let kids off on the side of the street where they live. If kids do have to cross the street, the bus driver will signal them across, when he sees both sides are clear.

Chaston wants all kids on busses to feel safe, which includes the prevention of bullying. "Utah is one of the leading states recognizing bullying," he said. "Drivers go through behavior management to create a safe environment for all on board." He said if a problem arises, a bullying student will be referred to school personnel. He recommends that if a student has concerns or problems on a bus, that he tell the driver as he gets off the bus.

To make sure kids board correct busses, drivers check their required bus passes for pass color, and number of the bus. Students are not allowed to ride other busses than the ones that take them home.

"We want to make sure all kids have a safe year," said Chaston.

Park City School District code of conduct for riding the school bus:

I will follow the driver’s instructions. The driver is in charge of the school bus, may assign seats and ask to see my bus pass.

I will be standing at my bus stop at least 5 minutes before the bus arrives, and behave appropriately.

I will follow the safety instructions of my bus driver for entering and leaving the school bus.

I will be courteous, respect property, and use appropriate language.

I will behave as expected in the classroom, and not bully others.

I will remain seated while on the bus.

I will not eat or drink on the bus without the driver’s permission.

I will keep the bus clean.

I will keep all body parts and objects inside the bus.

Sign-ups for space-available seats on busses for the 2007-08 school year will begin August 2. For the schedule of days and times, visit http://www.pcschools.us , under transportation, under the heading of space available.

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