School bus safety for the Bismarck School District

Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 7:40 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Last year, North Dakota had 51 crashes involving a school bus. So how safe do students feel when they commute? After bus drivers turn the keys and get on the roads, how safe are the students?

“School buses are considered one of the safest modes of transportation,” said Darin Scherr, Bismarck Public Schools business and operations manager.

For the early childhood grades, there are seatbelts, but for all other students, there aren’t any seatbelts. Regardless, the buses are built for safety.

“The design of a school bus is, with compartmentalization and how the seats are designed and the ribbing on the bus, very safe. They’re designed to keep kids locked in that compartment between the seats and between the floor and the roof, and very safe modes,” said Scherr.

Each year, the buses need to be inspected annually by a qualified mechanic or inspector. Bus drivers also have to perform daily inspections including lights and tires. Bus drivers also are encouraged to go through emergency evacuations and know where emergency exits are located.

“We do some evacuation drills with them in case there’s maybe like a fire in a bus, you know, to get them off, so yeah. Like I said, safety is probably our number one priority and we take it very serious,” said Scherr.

All these safety precautions can help students feel safe on the bus.

“I think that with BPS, they do a good job of if the road conditions aren’t good enough, we shouldn’t be going out there. So, personally, I always feel safe just ‘cause I think BPS always has our best interest. So, I always feel good,” said Gavin Lill, senior at Century.

Taking the bus can even be the safer option for students.

“They’re probably safer on the school bus than they probably are even in their own parent’s vehicle,” said Scherr.

All drivers have to take a test, a passenger endorsement, air brake and drug tests, and be certified drivers.

“We’re pretty confident. We also do a lot with our bus drivers as far as additional safety requirements in training,” said Scherr.

Just like cars, the buses are routinely maintained to ensure top-tier safety.

“Safety just like everything in our world, you know, the newer ones, there’s always probably improvements. So we actually have a pretty good replacement cycle for our buses and we require our contractor to do the same,” said Scherr.

Bismarck School District contracts some of its routes through Harlows but does transportation for early childhood and special education routes and activities.

Out of 51 crashes in 2022, there was one fatality and 8 injuries.