The West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) Transportation Department strives to serve the needs of all students and to provide safe, efficient transportation to and from school and school-related activities.
Alongside the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT), WDMCS is proud to observe National School Bus Safety Week from Oct. 22-26, which is recognized during the third full week of October each year.
“National School Bus Safety Week is an active and evolving public education program and an excellent way for parents, students, teachers, motorists, school bus operators, school administrators, and other interested parties to join forces and address the importance of school bus safety,” NAPT says.
Robin Pickard, Transportation Director at WDMCS, wants to utilize National School Bus Safety Week to highlight the importance to motorists in the district to watch for students near school buses and obey all school bus traffic laws.
“We can use the opportunity to emphasize to the students the importance of practicing safe loading, unloading and bus riding rules,” Pickard said. “It is also a time to celebrate the hard work of our employees!”
Currently at WDMCS, there are 47 school bus drivers transporting about 3,200 students daily. Last school year, WDMCS school buses traveled more than 600,000 miles, Pickard said. She added how it takes about a month of training before WDMCS school bus drivers get behind wheel with students.
“The training involves hours of driving, classroom instruction, and testing at the Iowa Department of Transportation, “Pickard explained. “They also require mandatory annual refresher training through the Iowa Department of Education. When drivers are done training, they almost all agree that the training is very comprehensive and a lot more involved than they thought.”
This year’s theme for National School Bus Safety Week is “My Driver — My Safety Hero!” Pickard says the school bus drivers at WDMCS are “second to none.”
“Each one of them have chosen this line of work because they want to work with children. Their job is not simply just driving, it is relating with students; they develop relationships with their students and care about them.” she said. “Our employees work hard to ensure each student makes it to school and back home safely every day.
“Many of our employees come back year after year and get to watch the students grow through the years, and that is our ultimate goal. ”
Watch a one-minute profile on Christine Ellis, who has been a school bus driver in the district for 13 years.
WDMCS Profile: Christine Ellis
School bus safety is a shared responsibility among parents, students, and the bus driver.
Required Stopping For School Buses
As a driver, it’s vital to understand when you are required to stop for a school bus.
When a drivers approach a school bus from the rear and see flashing red or amber warning lights, the Iowa Department of Transportation says, you are not permitted to pass the school bus and should be prepared to stop.
“Stop behind the school bus when the school bus stops and the stop arm is extended,” the Iowa DOT says. “Stop no closer than 15 feet from the rear of the bus, and remain stopped until the stop arm is retracted and school bus starts moving again. Proceed with caution.”
When drivers meet the bus from the front and see flashing red or amber warning lights, you must slow your vehicle to 20 miles per hour and be prepared to stop.
“Stop in front of the school bus when the school bus stops and its stop arm is extended,” the Iowa DOT says. “Remain stopped until the stop arm is retracted. Proceed with caution.”
Source: Iowa Department of Transportation
One last thing…
Be sure to thank your WDMCS school bus driver, and practice safe bus riding during National School Bus Safety Week and every week!
- October 17, 2018