What are the safety standards to which school buses must adhere?

Some 14,000 Canyons District students begin and end their day with a trip on a bus. As a form of mass transit, buses keep thousands of cars off the road, reducing emissions and helping to improve the quality of the air we breathe. They also are a safer way to travel to and from school than riding in a family vehicle, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. CSD's school buses are driven by experts with Commercial Driver’s Licenses, and they’re held to a higher safety standard than regular vehicles. “In one school year, our buses can be inspected up to 400 times,” CSD’s Transportation Director Jeremy Wardle told Good4Utah during a recent TV segment coinciding with National School Bus Safety Week. CSD mechanics maintain about 180 buses, and for their efforts in 2017, were awarded the Utah Highway Patrol’s Safety Gold Medal. The status is a rare distinction—and a sign that CSD students are traveling on the safest buses possible. Armed with tools, tape measures and mechanics’ dollies, a handful of UHP inspectors spent several days giving CSD’s buses the once-over. Buses are examined to ensure that hazard lights, windshield wipers, defrosters, headlights, fire extinguishers and exit doors are working properly and that first aid kits are fully stocked. Brake-pad thicknesses and tire treads are checked. Air, oil and coolant lines are scrutinized for leaks along with exhaust piping. Technology also plays a role in bus safety. Every bus has cameras capable of monitoring what takes place on the bus. The buses are also equipped with a Zonar system, which relays information about their location, speed, engine health and exactly what time it arrived and left each bus stop—in real time. National School Bus Safety Week is a perfect time for parents to talk to their children about the rules of the road. Here are a few helpful safety routines to always keep in mind:

  • Make sure your child knows his/her address and phone number, and how to reach you in case of an emergency.
  • Keep tabs on how your child will get to and from school, and with whom.
  • Talk to your child about stranger danger.
  • Review walking and biking routes with your child.
  • Establish a check-in time for your child to notify you when they arrive home from school.
  • Know your child’s friends and their phone numbers.
  • Pedestrians should stick to sidewalks when possible and walk facing traffic. Before crossing any street, even at a crosswalk, stop and look left and right for oncoming cars.
  • When biking or skateboarding to school, children should wear a helmet and understand traffic rules. They should come to a complete stop at crosswalks and walk their bike or skateboard across.
  • Never dart out in front of a parked car.
  • Do not bike or drive a motor vehicle while texting, talking on the phone or using headphones.
  • Drivers must always yield to pedestrians and should take extra care in school zones and at crosswalks.
  • It is illegal to pass a bus that is loading or unloading children.

Sources: National Safety Council, Utah Code, and Canyons District's Policy Manual
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