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The School Bus

Safety ignored

Across America some school boards and administrations are ending school bus transportation services. In a recent San Diego Union-Tribune (Calif.) story, an area where school bus services are being slashed, school officials demonstrated their ignorance by recommending that, "students bike, walk to school in groups, car pool with neighborhood parents or take transit buses. In a city where many streets lack sidewalks, Vista school officials are stressing that children should not walk alone." Ignorance prevented these school officials from promoting Walking School Buses, an option the slightly informed have known about for years. This short commentary helps present a glimpse at what can happen when the safety of schoolchildren is ignored.

About the author: James Kraemer often presents unique opinions that can sometimes be in conflict with school bus industry and related government agencies views. The opinions expressed in his commentaries are his own and are not necessarily those of 2safeschools sponsorships or other participants related to 2safeschools school bus safety education activities. His booklet, "Death at the school bus stop," is now available free on the internet.

Photo ©2003 Mnegi News Africa: At least five schoolchildren lost their lives when an open truck transporting them overturned at Kedia in Boteti Sub-district.
-Mmegi News Photo ©2003

By James Kraemer
©2003, All Rights Reserved. May be reprinted with permission from 2safeschools.

In Gaborone, Botswana (Africa) at least five students lost their lives on Aug. 12, 2003, when an open truck transporting them overturned. Demands from parents and the press to end busing schoolchildren in open trucks are ignored by the Botswana Ministry of Education.

In China, earlier this year, Sixteen of the 34 passengers aboard an overcrowded bus died when the bus suddenly overturned and rolled down a 40-metre slope. Most of the passengers were local residents, but some were also school students, returning home for the Spring Festival. Reports suggest that the single vehicle crash could have been a result of overloading, speeding and bad tires.

India has one of the world's worst traffic safety records. Frequent bus crashes are blamed on poorly implemented safety standards, inadequate maintenance of buses and roads, unchecked speeding and bribes paid to police. It's not uncommon for deaths in a poorly maintained and over crowded bus to reach two dozen or more, often with schoolchildren included in the carnage.

One bus crash in one of those countries can kill more kids than are killed in all our Nation's 50,000 some school bus crashes combined over several years.
In some third-world countries there are no enforced schoolchildren transportation standards, other than what nature provides. Death is a common standard nature provides.

One bus crash in one of those countries can kill more kids than are killed in all our Nation's 50,000 some school bus crashes combined over several years.

In some third world countries transporting kids at high speeds on overcrowded, poorly maintained buses and roads can kill dozens of schoolchildren in one bus crash.

One crash - dozens dead.

Here in the United States where our school buses are professionally maintained and driven, respected and put to use, plus appropriate standards and expectations properly enforced, save an astonishing number of lives every year.

Regardless, sometimes too much is assumed in our country, so much that even some of America's school bus drivers are distracted and realize no real appreciation for the unmeasured number of lives saved every day in this country when kids simply ride the school bus. Lives saved can't be measured because they're not dead -- they were spared.

So little realized or appreciated by some school boards, some parents and others.

Imagine: Remove the parents demand for safety, remove our laws, dump the minimum standards and eliminate the liability -- what role do you really think safety would play now?

Safety on our Nation's school buses became a byproduct resulting from consumer demand (mostly parents).

Third-World school bus stories, like the few briefly mentioned here, give us a glimpse into what it might be like without the efforts of ordinary people having the right to direct their demands at lawmakers and sometimes through the courts and the free press. The freedom to question and the freedom to demand and enforce that schools, government and parents do their part to help keep kids safe.

Stories from third-world countries are nothing more than a reminder of that reality.

We don't have to go to Africa or some other country to witness death have its' way.

Wherever a school board ends their school bus service, wherever a transportation provider ignores sound safety standards, wherever a moterist runs the school bus stop sign, you can be assured that death is nearby waiting patiently for Our Nation's contribution to Nature's Standard. (jk)

James Kraemer, a veteran school bus driver and founder of 2safeschools.org, is the author of the book. "Death at the school bus stop," now available as a free download (Click Here). Kraemer can be reached at [email protected].

Click Here to comment on this story, Subject: Saftey Ignored

Free school bus safety photos - Need a photo or graphic for a newsletter, brochure or your Website? You will find plenty of free graphics and ideas at 2safeschools Yellow Tin Can.
Teachers.Net - A national web site for teachers of all disciplines at all grade levels. Provides many resources. Beth Burno writes a regular column at teachers.net called "Schoolhouse Views."
2safeschools Teachers Webring - over 300 teachers nationwide ready to share their web pages. You'll find a nation's worth of ideas for all grade levels in this webring."
SNET's Internet Features Page - An excellent web site for parents and teachers, features articles relevant to the home, school and the community environment.
2safeschools Awards Centre - Does your web page include a safety suggestion, flyer or article. If it does, apply for your personalized 2safeschools "Helping Hand Award." No safety pages or flyers? Link to 2safeschools free templates page or to our directory or other 2safeschools page of your choice, then apply for your award; Directory Link: http://www.delphi.com/2safeschools
More 2safeschools link info
A Mother's Story - What this mom did when the school and therapy failed her out-of-control son. Excellent reading for Parents and School Staff dealing with an out-of-control teen and nothing else has worked.
A Librarianís Story - A 10-year veteran of the King County, (Washington State) Public Library resigned rather than carry out library policy of providing children with pornography.
How to help keep your child's school bus safe - A short article from "In Loving Memory."

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