Sept. 27, 2018 – Two recent school bus incidents illuminate how we can all contribute to safer commutes for children.
One incident involved a bus that did not fully clear a railroad track on Jacksonville’s Westside. While the accident is under investigation, school bus drivers are trained with specific procedures to cross tracks safely. Those procedures include stopping between 15 and 50 feet from the tracks, observing that there is sufficient space to clear the tracks on the other side, and looking and listening to ensure that it is safe to cross. Once drivers make the decision to proceed, they are to proceed without hesitation until the tracks are cleared.
Bus drivers are trained on railroad procedures when they are hired, and recertified every year. Each driver is required to exhibit proficiency in completing a railroad crossing in an actual demonstration or a simulation.
Student Transportation of America (STA), the operator of the bus involved, holds safety meetings monthly, and railroad safety is a topic at least once a year. Because of today’s incident, STA will review and re-emphasize railroad crossing procedures at its October safety meeting.
The district’s other transportation companies will also focus on railroad crossing at their upcoming safety meetings. All companies will request a presentation from Operation Lifesaver at one of their future meetings. Operations Lifesaver is a non-profit public safety education and awareness organization dedicated to reducing collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings.
A second incident involved a car that ignored the stop signals of a school bus while the bus was loading children. An oncoming car failed to observe the bus stop signals and struck a child. A news report earlier this week indicated that Jacksonville is one of the leaders in Florida in this dangerous category of cars ignoring school bus safety regulations.
Duval County Public Schools will continue to work with its transportation providers to ensure that training and operational procedures create the safest possible commute for children. Likewise, we ask all drivers to operate cautiously around school buses. Please follow all school bus regulations, particularly stopping for buses loading and unloading children, so that all children can get safely to school and back home with their families every day.