by Terry Rogers
National School Bus Safety Week, sponsored by the National Association of Pupil Transportation, is held the third full week of October. This year, Milford School District bus drivers will be honored the week of October 21.
“Bus drivers are some of the most important people to a school district who don’t actually work for the district,” Jon LoBiondo, Transportation Specialist with Milford School District, said. “Without drivers, kids don’t get to school. They transport as many as 60 kids at a time while driving the bus and trying to handle student behavior. It is difficult to express how difficult their job is, day in and day out.”
The theme of this year’s School Bus Safety Week is “My School Bus, The Safest Form of Student Transportation.” Throughout the district, students will be provided additional information about school bus safety. Nationally, more than 25 million children ride a school bus each day and this week serves as a reminder to keep safety at the forefront.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), a school bus is the safest vehicle on the road and it is often safer for a child to ride in a school bus than it is to ride in a personal vehicle. Less than one percent of all traffic fatalities involve children on school buses. In fact, school buses have stricter safety regulations than other types of buses, including charter and public buses. This results in children being 70 times more likely to get to school safely than traveling by car. Between 2008 and 2017, 126 people died in school bus accidents, although almost half of those who died were drivers of the bus and not passengers.
“The best part is each year I meet new students, some that come with many challenges,” Jan Sammons, who has been driving a bus for 27 years, said. “I am ready to retire and what I will miss the most is all the kids I have met over the years. I get very close to my children, they hold a special place in my heart. I’ve seen kids start Kindergarten and watched them succeed all the way through high school then on to college.”
Steve Peterman, who drives a bus and is also a contractor in Milford School District, says the industry is not without its challenges. The requirements to become a bus driver can be daunting and the job comes with significant pressure. Drivers must not only focus on traffic and road conditions, they also control as many as 60 students, often more than double or triple what a classroom teacher must control without the added distractions of traffic. For this reason, LoBiondo explained that the district enjoys taking time the third week of October to recognize the important service bus drivers provide.
“The district office and some of the schools will be recognizing the excellent work our bus drivers do each day,” LoBiondo said. “We are presenting them some fun gifts like magnets, lunch bags, key chains and pens as a thank you for getting our kids to and from school safely each day.”
Anyone who is interested in a bus driving position can reach out to Milford School District by calling 302-424-6476. LoBiondo explained that six Milford contractors are currently seeking bus drivers who will transport students to and from school.