The wheels on the bus are regulated


Grace Tasel.

Bus drivers must be efficient in order to keep students safe. Bus drivers also have to be timely during their routes and come to school on time.


Harford County Public School’s has had many bus accidents including one in May 2017. The state of Maryland has strict guidelines in place to keep students safe during transportation. These guidelines are in place to protect students, drivers, and the routes they take. When a student boards a bus, their safety becomes the driver’s main concern. Students may disregard this when on the bus or forget that it is still moving vehicle. However when a driver’s guard is down, crashes can occur.

Bus drivers have to follow many guidelines in order for the bus to be efficient and safe. Most guidelines are in the Patterson Mill planner. According to Wayne Boyer, Head of Transportation for Harford County Public Schools, “The rules and regulations are designed around the safe operation of a school bus driver and the students.” Regulations inform drivers of “the danger zone” which is an area around the bus that can be harmful to all drivers on the road and students if they get too close. A good reminder is to stay 10 feet away from the outsides and front of the bus. Nineteen children are killed a year getting on and off the bus. Most of these children are between the  ages of five to seven, according to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Act  (MVA). Young children are often hurt when they hurry to get on and off the bus and disregard the danger zone. Drivers are encouraged to constantly be looking on all sides of the vehicle to be mindful of the danger zone. Secondly, most regulations are about driving the bus and vehicles driving around it. For example, when a school bus stops for students, all traffic must stop. Setting these guidelines for other drivers assures the well-being of all traffic and pedestrians. As long as the driver is well trained and pays attention to the guidelines, no laws will be broken.

Bus drivers must go through rigorous training in order to be certified to drive a bus in the state of Maryland. “Drivers complete four days of classroom training regarding operations and expectations of operating a bus including first aid. A minimum of twenty hours behind the wheel with a certified driving instructor, as well as passing Maryland Vehicle Administration Commercial Driving License assessments to include passenger and school bus endorsements. Drivers also attend an annual six hours of in-service training with a minimum of bi-yearly evaluations,” Wayne Boyer explains. Drivers are able to give basic first aid to students. In fact, some drivers in Howard County are CPR certified according to The Baltimore Sun. Harford County insures the safety of students with, “training, evaluations and drug tests, background tests and a medical assessment,” says Boyer. In addition, students must comply with the bus transportations rules in order to not distract their bus drivers.

Inappropriate behaviors on buses can affect the driver’s ability to focus on the road and can compromise safety. According to the Patterson Mill planner, some rules for students are to “sit in their assigned seat during the entire bus ride,” and not to “extend any part of their bodies out of the window when in motion.” Additionally, students need to “keep the bus clean after riding it.” When a driver constantly has to look at their mirror to monitor the students they will miss the split second accidents that can occur. Dr. Abel, principal of Patterson Mill, explains “If students are acting in an unsafe or disruptive way on the bus, the attention of the driver has to be taken off of the road. Likewise, if students are following the rules, drivers can concentrate on the road and being safe drivers.” According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 3,477 lives were lost in 2015 from distracted driving nationwide. This number can be completely decreased if students are more careful to be considerate of drivers.

“Accidents do occur. However, the transportation department monitors any incidents and provides appropriate steps to prevent accidents from reoccurring,” Boyer tells Paw Prints, regarding the accidents in Harford County. Each year there are 63,000 bus accidents  in the United States according to On April 7, 2016 a Harford County school bus accident happened near Winters Run Bridge. Police were called at 11:19 am after another vehicle crashed into the bus during a heavy rain storm, according to WBAL. Luckily, no students were on the bus during the incident, however the driver was injured. Another bus accident took place in May of 2016. However, other drivers usually cause these accidents. Many fellow drivers are negligent and don’t follow bus regulations because they don’t think they apply to non-bus drivers. The safest thing for a driver to do is be mindful of the regulations. The Department of Transportation is always keeping the bus up to date with new regulations.

Right now, many buses across the United States are getting security cameras for their buses. These cameras are not only for the students, but also for the drivers, to ensure safe driving. According to CBS News, these cameras cost $2,000 a piece, meaning it might be awhile until they come to Patterson Mill. 12 states, including Maryland, have the cameras says the National Conference of Standards Laboratories (NCSL). “School buses are always undergoing changes in a manner that increases safety and efficiency,” Wayne Boyer said to Paw Prints. For example in legislation now, Maryland is considering seat belts on buses according to Prior to this legislation, higher seats substituted for the no seat belts, however says seatbelts save two students lives per year. Dr.Abel stated, “Whatever new technology that is out there will eventually be put into a bus.”

School buses have many rules that insure the safety of the students and drivers. However these rules and regulations only go so far. By drivers, students, and other motorists staying informed on regulations and following them, the road can be a much safer place.