CHP Improving School Bus Safety

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is being recognized for its efforts in improving school bus safety across the state. On Thursday, Commissioner Joe Farrow accepted the 2014 California State Child Safety Award on behalf of the CHP. The award was presented at the 115th Annual California State PTA Convention in Los Angeles by the Child Safety Network. Thankfully, California has not had a pupil passenger fatality on a bus in almost 20 years.

Special Driver Certificate Program

In addition to a strong emphasis on school bus safety, California is the only state that has a Special Driver Certificate Program for aspiring school bus drivers. This means that only qualified individuals become school bus drivers. To get certified, the CHP in combination with the Department of Education and the Department of Motor Vehicles administers an intense qualification and testing process. At this time there are approximately 33,000 certified school bus drivers in the state. The CHP is also responsible for the inspection and certification of over 23,000 school buses each year.

School Bus Safety Facts

• School buses are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in avoiding crashes and preventing injuries.
• Students are about 50 times more likely to arrive at school alive if they take the bus, than if they drive themselves or ride with friends.
• School buses keep an annual estimated 17.3 million cars off roadway surrounding schools each morning.
• From 2003 to 2012, 174 school-age children died in school-transportation related crashes across the United States.
• 55 of those children were occupants of school transportation vehicles and 119 were pedestrians.

The Danger Zone

Although school buses are designed to be safer than traditional passenger vehicles, one of their greatest safety threats is the “danger zone.” The greatest risk is approach and exiting the school bus. The “danger zone” is the area which extents 10 feet in front, behind an on each side of the school bus. Children should always wait until the driver says it’s safe to board and exit the school bus. Parents can find other important tips for their children in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Traffic Safety Toolkit.

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