District Transportation Goes the Extra Mile for Student Safety


Ensuring student safety is nothing new to the Baldwinsville Central School District. Student safety is always a top priority, and district staff members are continuously exploring ways to increase safety.

For this new school year, the district’s transportation department has taken the initiative to increase its already rigorous student safety standards by implementing equipment and driver training that, although not currently required by New York State, the department and the district believe are worth the time and investment to ensure the safety of the over 5,000 Baldwinsville students who ride our buses on 97 routes each school day. Our buses travel 6,541 total miles every day, which is approximately the equivalent of traveling from Syracuse, NY to Tokyo, Japan every day. 

The transportation department will be outfitting all of its buses this year with supplemental red warning lights as an extra safety measure. The lights will warn motorists that buses are stopping to load or unload students and students may be crossing the street. “This is the most vulnerable time for students during transportation to and from school due to the possibility of accidents created by vehicles illegally passing a stopped school bus,” said Dana Nelson, the Baldwinsville’s assistant transportation supervisor.
 
 
Nelson said that in Ohio, a pilot program with the supplemental lights indicated a 50% decrease in the number of motorists passing stopped school buses. When he learned this he recommended that the district spend the resources needed to equip its buses with the lights.

The cost of the lights and installation by district staff is roughly $350 to $400 per bus. The district has about 100 buses and will receive 70% of the cost of the lights in the form of state aid next school year. The transportation department should finish the installation on all buses by January 2018.

Nelson noted that all school buses currently have red warning lights located at the top of the buses, about 10 feet higher than where the supplemental lights are installed. The supplemental lights are located just above the front and rear bumpers of a bus and activate when the school bus’s stop arm is deployed, in conjunction with the existing red-flashing warning lights. These additional lights shine directly in a motorist’s line of vision, so drivers are more likely to see the lights and stop as children board or disembark from a bus.

Another area in which the transportation department is beefing up its safety measures is driver training. On August 22, the department will be conducting training on how to react in a rollover situation.

Every year the district’s drivers are required to complete state-mandated safety training. Although a bus rollover scenario is not part of the state’s mandatory training, the district and the transportation department are acting proactively and taking the initiative to train all of its drivers on how to handle a rollover so that they will be familiar with how to handle any dangerous situation they may encounter.

“Our efforts are worth it in order to ensure student safety,” said Superintendent Matthew McDonald. “It may take a little more time and work to constantly improve our safety efforts and to go beyond what is mandatory, but you cannot put a price on student safety.”

On August 22 the district will place a bus on its side to simulate a roll over on the front lawn at the main entrance of the district campus in order to train its drivers.

Currently school districts around the country are experiencing a shortage of qualified school bus drivers. Baldwinsville is no exception when it comes to keeping its roster of substitute drivers filled. The district is continuously recruiting and training substitute drivers while maintaining its rigorous standards for employment. New York State has strict standards for school bus drivers; Baldwinsville gives its applicants even greater scrutiny in order to hire the cream of the crop. Most of the district’s permanent drivers begin as substitute drivers.

If you are interested in becoming a substitute school bus driver, please visit the district’s Human Resources web page to fill out an online employment application.
 
Last updated on 8/18/2017