Thursday, October 25, 2018

Why don't Irish people care about school bus safety?

Senator Ross is the Minister for Transport but he "cannot make any demands" as to how school buses operate because it is the remit of a different government department, the Department of Education. Give me a break!

This is a crazy situation and Minister Ross should step up and say so. His department is responsible for vehicle safety and driver testing but not for school buses? Why not?

I've long thought Irish people are, at best, indifferent to the safety of the children that have to ride "school buses." Even the phrase "school bus" is misleading because as far as I can tell from my own observations most of the school buses are just old buses that the owners – sometimes – slap a bit of yellow paint on. They are transport to school but they are not school buses as anyone in America would understand them.

In NY State (and I think most states are pretty much the same) school buses are tested by state officials (NY State Dept of Transportation), the drivers are required to pass state tests (NY State Dept of Transportation) and there are laws regarding what a school bus must look like (including the school bus chrome shade of yellow) and how drivers on the road are to supposed to react when they see a stopped school bus (all NY State Dept of Transportation). School bus drivers are not simply bus drivers – they have to pass an additional test about school buses before they can drive a school bus.

The buses themselves are built for safety and have lights and stop signs that warn drivers that children are possibly going to be crossing the road, etc. The traffic stops when a school bus stops. The children are drilled in safe crossing and riding.

From what I've seen none of this happens in Ireland. This could be fixed with a little commitment but the state and the schools see the school bus as a gift from the gods to those who need them and don't believe they should have to make any effort to make the buses safer.

Changes needed must include:
  • training in how to safely cross students for both drivers and students
  • lights and reflective tape and paints and a standardized color scheme to make school buses stand out and easily identified
  • proper inspections of the vehicles by state operators – every six months
  • a commitment to improve the school bus stock so that within a reasonable timeframe all school buses are properly fitted, have reinforced frames, etc for maximum student safety.
Irish school children should not die on faulty or badly maintained buses or due to poorly trained drivers or due to poor safety training with regards to crossing roads, etc. Come on Minister Ross, work up a plan and see if you can find someone in the Department of Education who is willing to offload this responsibility to where it should right lie.