How tech helps students stay safe on the school bus

school bus
school bus
Posted at 6:12 PM, Aug 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-25 14:13:10-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - As the school year gets underway, safety is top of mind for many families.

In August alone, a Leon County and Valdosta City school bus has been involved in accidents. Even though they were minor, crashes like these have parents and school officials focused on students' school bus rides.

In 2017, school buses are far more advanced than they used to be. Seat belts, cameras and even GPS tracking are used to make sure drivers and students get to and from school unharmed.

"States have different [seat belt] requirements. Florida has it's own set of requirements that I would say are the forefront in the country. Even in the buses coming out next year, 2018 buses will now also have a shoulder harness coming across," said Dr. Michael Moore, Leon County Schools Director of Transportation.

Another change: as many as 12 cameras on every bus. Moore says some even have night vision. The buses also get a routine inspection every month to make sure they're safe for the road.

When it comes to safety outside the school bus, the biggest hazard is other drivers who don't pay attention to the stop sign and flashing lights. If drivers get too impatient and decide to pass a school bus, a camera mounted outside catches their license plate number.

"If a car runs a stop sign on the bus, we can send it to the sheriff's office," said Moore.

As for the bus drivers, even those with years of experience continue to get training every month. Anywhere from 40-80 students board a Leon County bus on any given day, but that doesn't mean your kids are strangers to the driver.

"These drivers know these kids well, by name, maybe [even] what they wore to school," said Fredrick Johnson, a Route Supervisor for Leon County Schools. "At the elementary level, those kids love to cling to you, hug your neck, and you get the experience of knowing the kids."

To avoid distraction the bus drivers, students should always stay sitting and keep the noise level low. For parents, school officials say you should make sure you know (or at least have written down somewhere) your child's bus number and their bus driver's name in case there's ever an issue.

On Leon County school buses, students are not allowed to take photos or video of any other student without their permission.