With the recent tragedy in Indiana where a beloved elementary school principal shoved several students out of the way of an oncoming bus and subsequently died, many are asking about bus safety.There are over 800 NEISD vehicles, and 452 of them are buses. 26,500 students ride the bus every day. With so many lives on the line, what does NEISD do to avoid accidents?
Federal regulations concerning school buses are relatively loose. However, the government highly recommends that only two high school age students sit per seat. Students partially off the seat are not safe, and can’t benefit from the special energy-absorbing school bus seats. Crowded buses are best avoided.
In Texas, the standard is that buses will pick up students that live two or more miles from school. There is a subsequent extended list of exceptions that allow closer students to ride the bus, including if students have to cross major intersections or walk on unsafe walkways. Note that the lack of a sidewalk does not qualify a route as unsafe. The state also requires that all bus drivers go through an intensive training program followed by a refresher course every three years. There is also a periodical state inspection of all school buses including a full check on the safety and maintenance of the buses.
NEISD is actually remarkably vigilant concerning its transportation. There are two bus terminals with a total of 33 workers that complete 995 work orders a month. Bus drivers go through additional training in skills such as CPR and crisis management. Buses are regularly inspected and refurbished. With only .02 accidents per 100 million miles driven, NEISD is doing pretty well. The most recent incident was at the beginning of this school year, when a bus driver did not notice three drunk, adult women board his bus going to Harris Middle School. Luckily no students were harmed, but the driver was fired. A few years ago, a bus crashed into a motel pool when a driver lost control of the vehicle. Fortunately no students were yet on board at the time and the driver only suffered minor injuries.
The NEISD standards are high, and the results speak for themselves. Despite the overwhelming number of serviced students and vehicles, accidents are few and far between. Thanks to bus drivers and respectful riders, NEISD has a remarkably safe transportation system. Remember to thank bus drivers, and ride safely.