What Are Schools Doing to Keep Kids Safe on the Bus?

By Megan Trent

March 13, 2012 Updated Mar 13, 2012 at 6:23 PM EDT

DECATUR, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - After a deadly school bus crash in Indianapolis, local school districts remain focused on the safety of their students riding on buses to and from school.

In the North Adams County School district, Transportation Director Larry Carty says student safety has always been a top priority.

Carty says administrators are constantly monitoring current road and weather conditions, but the bus driver always has the final word. He says if a driver thinks conditions are too poor to safely transport children, he or she can make the decision to turn back or not continue on their route.

In addition, Carty says North Adams has monthly transportation meetings focused on improving safety and addressing concerns. All drivers in the district must have a CDL license with a bus driver endorsement. Ongoing training is also required.

Still, the debate rages on over seat belts in school buses. Carty says he has yet to see a study that definitively shows seat belts increase safety.

"There's not a safer vehicle on the road than a school bus," he says. "They're built like a tank. The structure in them, the steel, is unbelievable. We've had incidents where cars have run stop signs or stop lights and hit a bus and totaled the car and barely marked the bus."

It's also not financial feasible. Carty says a typical bus has 28 seats that will hold three kids each. However, only two seats could be installed in each of the seats.

"So, an 84 passenger bus becomes a 56 passenger, but our student population remains the same. That means 50% more buses in the fleet, and nobody can afford that right now."

The district has, however, ordered three new buses this year equipped with higher seat backs. Manufactures say this creates a "safe zone" around students in case of impact.

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