National School Bus Safety Week, celebrated in October, is a timely reminder of their crucial role in ensuring the safety of students during their journeys to and from school. This year’s theme, “Safely Rolling to My Destination,” underscores the paramount importance of safeguarding students while on school buses.
Behind the wheel of a bus for seven years, Brenda Miller, a dedicated school bus driver, is a prime example of these unsung heroes. She recognizes the gravity of her job.
“A lot of people think our job is to get the kids to school on time. And, you know, that’s nice. But really our number one job is to get the kids to school safely,” Miller said. “So if it takes a couple extra minutes before making a turn, it takes a couple extra minutes.”
Miller says safety is her top priority. School bus drivers across the country perform thorough inspections to guarantee bus safety. Miller’s role is unique as she drives a special needs bus, which involves meticulous checks of every emergency exit, light, switch, mirror and seat, as well as brake functionality.
The importance of their work becomes even more apparent when considering alarming statistics. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, between 2000 and 2021, there were 53 fatalities resulting from passing a stopped school bus. It is illegal for drivers to pass a school bus when the stop arm is extended and the red lights are flashing.
“Stopping about 30 feet from a bus is a really good idea. A good distance to be,” Miller said. “Also, if you’re driving and you see a bus coming and you see kids standing, that’s a good indicator that the bus is probably going to be stopping where those kids are to pick them up.”
“I know that we’re all in a hurry. We all have places to go and things to do, but we’re not going to solve any issues by hurting somebody,” said AAA traffic safety educator Mike Sweeney. “So we really want to focus on the kids and pedestrian safety in general.”