- S.L. Lewis
FCS Supports National School Bus Safety Week October 21-25
October 21-25, marks National School Bus Safety Week. Fulton County Schools will join districts across the nation to highlight safety in transportation and celebrate bus drivers. The 2019 theme is “My School Bus, the Safest Form of Student Transportation!” National School Bus Driver Appreciation Day is Monday, October 21, and students and parents across Fulton will honor drivers with handmade cards, signs and special treats.
Approximately 800 buses travel 50,000 miles each day with 79,000 students in their tow. Annually, the 1,600 routes equate to more than 10 million miles. To put this in perspective, each school day Fulton County school buses travel the same distance as going around the Earth twice.
“FCS is not only safety conscious with our bus driver training, but we are also the first propane-powered school bus fleet to add three-point seat belts on all bus purchases since 2017,” says Sam Ham, executive director of Transportation. “When we begin the second half of this school year, 53% of our daily crank buses (which translates to 402 buses) will be powered by an alternative and clean propane fuel.”
According to Ham, it takes 100 propane-powered buses to emit the same amount of nitrogen oxide in the atmosphere as one older diesel-powered bus. Propane bus engines also are 75 percent cleaner than the current emissions standard. Fulton’s new propane buses are being funded by SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax), the one-penny education sales tax, as well as by federal/local grant funding.
Driver training and preparation are key to bus safety. FCS bus drivers must pass a criminal background check, have an annual physical, become CPR and First Aid Certified, and participate in the Green Cross Defensive Driving Program. Additionally, drivers are subject to new hire and random drug and alcohol testing, and driving records are reviewed monthly.
To close the weeklong celebration, Fulton County Schools will host its 36th annual Bus Safety Competition (formerly called the Bus Road-e-o) on Saturday, Oct. 26, at its North Fulton Transportation Center in Alpharetta. Based on scores from skills testing, the top 12 highest-ranking drivers from North Fulton face off against 12 of their South Fulton colleagues. The competition is an obstacle course in which competitors must use normal road rules while showcasing their precision driving skills and knowledge of legal protocols. While the purpose is ultimately to continue professional development and improve and maintain driving skills, the event strengthens the sense of community and fun. First and second place winners advance to the state competition in June.
FCS is always seeking qualified drivers to join its ranks. Positions are currently available with competitive wages and benefits. The Transportation department will hold a job fair on Saturday, Oct. 26 at the North Transportation Center from 1 – 4 p.m. For more information, visit the Eventbrite registration page.
Great Bus Safety Tips
School bus transportation plays a critical role in the education of our nation's students, and is the direct link between a neighborhood and the classroom. More than 25 million children ride the yellow bus every school day, and National School Bus Safety Weekserves as a reminder for students, parents, teachers, and the community to keep school bus safety in the forefront. Here are tips to keep our children safe at the bus stop.
Getting Ready for School
- Have your children put everything they carry in a backpack or school bag so that they won’t drop things along the way.
- Encourage them to wear bright, contrasting colors so they will be more easily seen by drivers.
- Make sure children leave home on time so they can arrive at the bus stop before it is due, ideally at least five minutes early. Running after or in front of a bus is dangerous.
Walking to the Bus Stop
- Walk young children to the bus stop or encourage children to walk in groups. There is safety in numbers; groups are easier for drivers to see.
- Practice good pedestrian behavior: walk on the sidewalk, and if there is no sidewalk stay out of the street. If you must walk in the street, walk single file, face traffic and stay as close to the edge of the road as you can.
- Stop and look left, right and then left again if you must cross the street. Do the same thing at drive -ways and alleys. Exaggerate your head turns and narrate your actions so your child knows you are looking left, right and left.
At the Bus Stop
- Have children wait in a location where the driver can see them while driving down the street. Try to avoid waiting in a house or car.
- Do not let children play in the street. Playing with balls or other toys that could roll into the street is also dangerous.
Getting On and Off the Bus
- Warn children that if they drop something getting on and off the bus, they should never pick it up. Instead, they should tell the driver and follow the driver’s instructions.
- Remind children to look to the right before they step off the bus.
- If you meet your child at the bus stop after school, wait on the side where the child will be dropped off, not across the street. Children can be so excited to see you after school that they dash across the street and forget the safety rules.
Cell phones and other electronic devices are often permitted on the school bus as long as:
- They are in backpacks or other holders, keeping hands free to use handrails while boarding and departing the bus.
- Sound is muted or headphones, ear buds or similar devices are used.
- Content does not violate the law or school district policy and procedures.
- Use does not create a distraction for the driver