COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has announced recommendations from the Ohio School Bus Safety Working Group, which was created last year “to examine school transportation safety related to several factors such as seat belts, driver training, bus inspections, critical incident protocol and crash risk factors.”
SUBSCRIBE: Get the day’s top headlines sent to your inbox each weekday morning with the free 3News to GO! newsletter
The group’s report lists 17 total recommendations related to bus driver recruitment and retention, training and education, school bus safety features, road and traffic safety, emergency response, and commercial bus services.
Below are the recommendations:
- School districts should identify, share, and encourage bus drivers to participate in professional development opportunities.
- The Ohio Department of Education and Workforce should work with the Ohio Department of Public Safety to create and offer wellness programming specific to school bus drivers. School districts should develop policies to ensure bus drivers can take advantage of this wellness support.
- School districts should develop school bus driver performance review policies and conduct annual performance evaluations.
- The Ohio Department of Education and Workforce should require and provide a curriculum for six hours of annual bus driver training.
- The Ohio Department of Public Safety and Ohio Department of Education and Workforce should partner to expand advanced driver training for school bus drivers in Ohio.
- The Ohio Department of Education and Workforce should adopt rules requiring school districts to offer school bus safety orientation to students, parents, and guardians at the beginning of each school year.
- The Ohio State Highway Patrol should initiate collaboration between state and local law enforcement partners to develop law enforcement training on school bus inspections and the most common safety risks for student passengers.
- The Ohio Department of Public Safety should develop educational materials and wide-ranging public service announcements on school bus traffic safety laws and best driving practices.
- The Ohio Department of Education and Workforce should assess whether it is appropriate to increase the minimum number of required training hours for school bus mechanics.
- The Ohio Department of Education and Workforce should work with the Ohio General Assembly to develop and fund a grant program to help school districts invest in school bus safety features such as, but not limited to, seat belts. The grant program should be needs-based.
- The Ohio Department of Public Safety should work with the Ohio General Assembly to strengthen penalties for drivers who violate traffic laws in school zones and around school buses.
- The Ohio Department of Transportation should support cities, townships, and villages to assess safety conditions on local roads located in and around school zones.
- School districts should conduct safety audits of their bus routes, bus stops, and school pick-up/drop-off sites on school property to reduce safety risks and mitigate the severity of school bus crashes.
- School districts should engage school bus drivers in critical incident response planning and include them in realistic, scenario-based critical incident exercises.
- The Ohio State Highway Patrol should hold regular school bus stakeholder meetings to identify and mitigate gaps in critical incident responses to school bus crashes and other bus-related security issues.
- The Ohio Department of Education and Workforce should expand its post-crash report to collect additional information and publish the data annually to inform future policy decisions and aid in determining school bus driver professional development needs.
- School districts should adopt policies that require a thorough evaluation of contracted commercial bus services.
You can see the entire report below:
Those recommendations were revealed during a press conference, which can be watched below:
The group did not recommend that the state mandate seat belts for all school buses. According to a statement from DeWine’s office, because hazards impacting school bus travel vary across school districts, all group members agreed that “schools should have the flexibility to invest in seat belts or any other school bus safety equipment that best meet their unique needs.”
In addition to Gov. DeWine, the following officials were also at the press conference:
- Director Andy Wilson, Ohio Department of Public Safety
- Director Steve Dackin, Ohio Department of Education and Workforce
- Ohio School Bus Safety Working Group Members
The Ohio School Bus Safety Working Group was formed after the death of 11-year-old Aiden Clark, a Northwestern Local School District student who was killed when another vehicle collided with his school bus in Clark County last August.
“When a tragedy like this occurs, we owe it to parents and the public to determine if more can be done to prevent it from happening again,” said DeWine. “While studies consistently show that school buses are the safest mode of transportation for students, the working group found that there are things we all can do to make school bus travel safer.”
Who’s on the Ohio School Bus Safety Working Group? The following members were announced back in September:
- Andy Wilson (Chair)
Director, Ohio Department of Public Safety
- Melody Coniglio
Northeast Region Director, Ohio Association of Pupil Transportation
- Jeff Dornbusch
Vice President, Benton Carroll Salem School Board
- Carolyn Everidge-Frey
Senior Executive Director, Center for Advancing Professional Supports,
Ohio Department of Education
- Dean Fadel
President, Ohio Insurance Institute
- Judith French
Director, Ohio Department of Insurance
- Paul Imhoff
Director of Government Relations, Buckeye Association of School Administrators
- Col. Charles Jones
Superintendent, Ohio State Highway Patrol
- Jack Marchbanks
Director, Ohio Department of Transportation
- Jessica Mead
- Erin Reed
Assistant Policy Director, Office of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine
- Davida Russell
School Bus Driver, South Euclid Lyndhurst School District
- Robert Widener
President, Ohio School Bus Mechanics Association
- Chris Woolard
Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction, Ohio Department of Education
- Jingzhen Yang, MPH, PhD
Principal Investigator, Center for Injury Research & Policy, Abigail Wexner Research Institute, Nationwide Children’s Hospital
MORE FROM 3NEWS…
Want to be among the first to know the most important local and national news? The latest sports updates? We’ve got you covered! You can download the free WKYC app and get the latest updates sent to your phone: Android, Apple.