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BACK-TO-SCHOOL SAFETY REMINDERS

Take Time, Be Patient, and Expect the Unexpected

School for 40,000 Escambia County students is about to begin again. With the start of the new school year comes a dramatic increase in traffic during the morning and afternoon commutes. Parents driving their children to school will add traffic pressure to the routes in and out of school zones and an additional 320 yellow school buses will take to the road all around the county all throughout the rush hour period. Motorists are advised to take a little extra time to get to work or school and be patient with delays. Most importantly, expect the unexpected.

Watch the Road Ahead

Half of all motorist-at-fault traffic accidents involving school buses in Escambia County during the 2011-12 school year were caused by motorists who rear-ended a stopped school bus at a railroad crossing, traffic signal, or school bus stop. "Inattention to driving is the only reasonable explanation," according to Rob Doss, Escambia County School District Director of Transportation. He advises that with school in session, now is an excellent time to put the cell phone away and watch the road ahead.

The Yellow School Bus: A Smarter Option

The American School Bus Council reports that the iconic yellow school bus keeps an estimated 17.3 million cars off the roads surrounding schools each morning every year. Every school bus equates to 36 cars for a national savings of 2.3 billion gallons of fuel and 44.6 billion pounds of harmful carbon dioxide emissions. Escambia County school buses keep some 5,000 cars off the road during the busiest times of the day.

The Yellow School Bus: A Safer Option

The American School Bus Council says that students are more than 20 times safer traveling to and from school on board a yellow school bus than they are in a passenger car. School buses are designed to meet or surpass crush standards, they are thoroughly adorned with flashing lights and reflective tape, they have reinforced sides, and are painted in a distinctive bright yellow color. School bus operators are trained in student management, they participate in pre-employment and random drug/alcohol testing, their driving records are frequently checked, they are trained in the proper loading and unloading of students, and they are training in security and emergency procedures. Escambia County School buses are equipped with GPS devices that monitor location, activity, and speed and with digital cameras that store recordings of on-board activity for weeks.

Student Pedestrian Safety

- Students who ride school buses should arrive at the bus stop 5-10 minutes early so they are not late and thus tempted to chase after the bus. Every year, a student somewhere in this country is killed or injured while chasing after a school bus.
- Students at the bus stop should stand at least 10 feet from the edge of the road.
- Students should wait until the bus comes to a complete stop and the bus operator opens the door before approaching the bus to board.
- Students should never walk behind the school bus. They should wait for the bus operator's signal then cross the street in front of the bus.
- Students who drop objects beside the school bus should inform the bus operator before attempting to retrieve them. If they do not alert the bus operator, he or she might not be able to see the student as the bus pulls away.

Reminders for Motorists

- It is illegal to pass a school bus stopped to load or unload students. See the article below for more information.
- Remember that children can be unpredictable at times. Watch out for students who might dart into traffic, unaware of oncoming traffic.
- Slow down anywhere students are walking or standing. Watch for students who might be walking in the street, especially in places where there are no sidewalks.
- Watch for school buses making stops at railroad crossings and dropping and picking up students at bus stops

 

SCHOOL BUS SAFETY

Attention drivers! Do you know when to brake for that big yellow school bus? Knowing the rules could save you from a crash but more importantly, from striking a child with your vehicle. No one wants to do that.

So, what are the rules of the road when it comes to stopped school buses on Florida's roadways?

Motorists moving in both directions must stop when approaching a school bus with its lights activated and the stop sign extended. However, on a highway divided by a raised barrier or an unpaved median that is at least five-feet wide, a motorist traveling in the opposite direction of the stopped school bus may proceed with caution. That means the ONLY time we don't stop for a school bus that has its lights activated is when we are on the other side of a raised barrier or five-foot unpaved median, headed in the opposite direction of the bus. Even then, we proceed with caution.

Florida's departments of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Transportation, and Education have teamed up to develop Stop on Red, Kids Ahead, a statewide education campaign to remind motorists of the laws and safe practices to take when approaching a school bus. FloridaSchoolBusSafety.gov serves as the information portal for the campaign.

 

COMPRESSED NATURAL GAS (CNG) IN ECSD SCHOOL BUSES

The District Transportation Department has conducted a careful and thoughtful study into the viability of a transition to compressed natural gas (CNG) as a fuel source for its school buses. The consideration of an alternative fuel for publicly-owned diesel-powered school buses has many facets that invite a number of questions. Some of those questions can be answered now while many others remain and will only be answered in time as the market develops.

In order to arrive at an understanding of the facts that bear on this issue, District transportation officials examined a number of documents, attended a number of fact-finding meetings, consulted with vendors, and gathered anecdotal and factual material from school districts that have experience with CNG.

The fruits of these documents, meetings, consultations and materials have been gathered, analyzed, and presented in a report that we are pleased to offer for your reference. The discussion that follows in that report reflects a balanced consideration of the issues related to a potential transition of the Escambia County School District school bus fleet to CNG fuel. In the end, this report concludes that this is not the time to transition the District bus fleet to compressed natural gas fuel, particularly since CNG engines are not yet available in the conventional configuration utilized by the District. As the District awaits the expansion of the market to include 65- and 77-passenger buses at the right price, it will continue to track the relevant issues associated with a prospective CNG transition.

Take a look at the report entitled "CNG in Escambia School District Buses" (April 2, 2012). The report is in the Adobe Acrobat format which you can access with the free Acrobat Reader available at the Adobe website (www.adobe.com).