Residents of Tennessee – and indeed, the world – were shocked and perplexed at the recent story in the news regarding a crash that left six children dead in 2016. This preventable tragedy changed the minds of many Tennesseans about several aspects of the safety of our schools’ buses.
Recently, the state legislature has moved on some big bills aimed at keeping our children out of harm’s way. And communities have banded together to raise awareness for potential future rule changes. Progress on the safety of children is always something to celebrate, and Tennessee residents have something to be proud of in their movement toward bus safety.
So what’s been done and why? What are the discussions? And what are some of the next steps? Let’s take a look.
Seat Belts on School Buses: What’s the Story?
For decades, pretty much every school kid has asked their parents why school buses don’t have seat belts. Wouldn’t it make sense to take the same precautions on rides to and from school that you take when driving to Uncle Lonnie’s house?
Parents haven’t had many good answers, and they’ve usually mumbled something about far-fetched scenarios involving drivers being unable to unbuckle the kids in case of a fire or being stalled on train tracks.
The real reason school buses don’t have seat belts, say many experts and parents, is money. Seat belts can be expensive, and for many taxpayers and districts, the cost of installing seat belts has simply not been worth the potential lives saved.
Tennessee residents have had enough, though, and recently passed a law that will push for seat belts and other safety measures to be put into school buses. This law will save the lives of children, and Tennessee parents will sleep a little better each night knowing their young ones will be kept safe on their rides every morning and afternoon.
Should the School Bus Driver Hiring Process Be More Selective?
Another topic that came up over the last year was whether or not bus companies were sufficiently selective in their hiring process. As many outlets have noted, the driver in last year’s crash was twenty four years old, too young to be trusted with the lives of a busload of children, according to many. In response, there’s been a push to increase the minimum age to twenty five to drive a school bus. If this passes, drivers will be older, more experienced, and more mature in their driving. And that means that fewer children be put into daily dangers while on the road.
Additionally, lawmakers have pushed for deeper background checks for drivers. People guilty of major traffic crimes and other reckless infractions would be prevented from getting behind the wheels of school buses.
A third call has been for increased driver training. In addition to driver’s licenses, new drivers would have to attend short courses and deeper behind-the-wheel training before transporting kids for real.
The Push for Bus Safety is Looking Good
The people have responded to this tragedy and the future looks safe. Seat belts, training, and more strenuous background checks will all ensure the safety of Tennessee’s children.
Donna Fitzgerald is a guest blogger who enjoys composing various works around health and family wellness subjects. She is an avid reader and writer. In her spare time, you can find Donna curled up behind one of her favorite novels. Donna has two daughters, and is an advocate for helping other families remain healthy – through health, wellness, and finances.