Monday, February 2, 2009

Seatbelts and the Backpack Rant

I seem to be doing alot of topics in two's, so in keeping with tradition......

A popular topic as of late that is debated year after year is the issue of seatbelt restraints on school buses. Most states have laws where Special Education buses and smaller buses - half the size of a normal 72-100-passenger school bus - are required to have some form of seatbelt restraints installed. People often ask why seatbelts are not required for the larger buses especially given the “cargo” we transport daily. There is no doubt in my mind that seatbelts save lives, however a seatbelt restraint system in a large school bus while theoretically is a good idea, is largely impractical to implement.

First, there is the practicality of getting all the children seated and buckled. On a Special Ed bus, an aide rides along and ensures the children stay seated and firmly buckled. Additionally, on a larger bus, there is only one driver that handles all the children. Putting seatbelts on a bus only increases the possibility that they be used as weapons against peers. (Miss Bus Driver…..Little Joey choked/hit me with the seatbelt!!!) Also if the bus gets in a crash or otherwise needs to be evacuated quickly, some children may get stuck by the seatbelt. Many children don’t have the dexterity and strength it requires to press the seatbelt buckle. They may also be injured to the point of immobility. It then becomes the bus driver’s responsibility to free and rescue that child with a seatbelt cutter. Multiply the mayhem and insanity on a regular day times 100 and you’ve got what happens in an accident. As a driver, I don’t want that added responsibility on my shoulders.

I digress.

Backpacks are the fashion statement from hell. You may think it’s cute to send little James to school with a Spiderman backpack or little Mary to school with a Dora the Explorer book bag. What I see is the multitudes of paper your sweet child will dump all over the floor of my bus, which I have to clean, if the paper has not flown all over the bus and ends up crumpled or in my face while I’m driving. Also, I’m sick of picking up Joshua’s or Janie’s pencil that they forgot on the bus for the MILLIONTH time. They call it HOME-work for a reason! I swear I should charge a dime for every pencil the kids want to “borrow” from my cup of pencils that I’ve accumulated. I have to clean out the pencil cup at least 3 times a year to keep it from busting at the seams with pencils, pens, crayons, erasers, and other items I find on the bus floor.

Also those backpacks with wheels on it are the worst invention/fad EVER. It’s obnoxious enough when your child insists on taking EVERYTHING out of his backpack during a 15 minute ride and then has to hold the whole bus up when we’re at his stop waiting for your little cherub to wander up the aisle and waddle off the bus holding 20 million papers, but when your child insists on trying to wheel the backpack down the narrow aisle, getting it stuck on every seat along the way and holding up the route while they wrestle the stupid bag into the seat they’ve chosen, at the BACK of the bus, only to wash, rinse, repeat at school, here’s a little hint…. THE WHEELIE BACKPACKS DON’T FIT DOWN THE AISLE OF A SCHOOL BUS --- DON’T BUY
THEM!!!!!!!!!!!

Toys should be banned from the school bus. Especially toys that are round, or have wheels that make the toy move easily along the floor. Please teach your children that the school bus is not a playground and the seat is for sitting in, not playing with toys and being obnoxious. For the Love of God, please, please, please lock your children’s backpack and offer your child’s teacher a key. Then maybe you’ll actually GET that field trip permission form that didn’t end up in the garbage of the school bus.

Up next!! Obnoxious Children!

The Bus Driver

8 comments:

ChiTown Girl said...

This was hilarious! Especially the backpack rant. Loved it!!

You did make me a little nervous, though, reading your shpeel about seatbelts. I've ALWAYS taken the time to go seat by seat and buckle every single one of my babies in when we go on a field trip. Now, I'm gonna be freaking out that there could be an accident, and I won't be able to UNbelt them all!! Yikes!! What the hell do I do now? I never thought about that before. I mostly make sure they are all buckled so they can't stand up and/or move around. Like you said, they really can't unbuckle them, especially mine, who are only 5 or 6. Wow, I'm really going to have to rethink this whole issue...

Story of our Life said...

OMGosh...from one bus driver to another..I take my hat off and say AMEN SISTER!!

I hate seatbelts on busses!! I fathom the thought of them. I have only had to use them when I worked at Head Start last year. 99% of those kids did not have bed times, they stayed up until 12am each morning, I then picked them up as their mommy just pulled them out of bed and then stuck them on my bus. By the time I took those poor lil things home at 1pm they were so tired they couldn't keep their heads up...and you know what happens when you fall asleep in one of those things...

It can choke and strangle the child. I know from experience of my own child...I had to take him to work w/me one day (twice actually). Both times...he was nearly strangled. The one time thankfully my daughter was with me. He was about 3 or so at the time and he tried to 'climb out' of that restraint. It wasn't purty.. The last time was last year and he fell asleep (he wasn't up all night...it was along day due to a severe snow storm). He fell over in the seat. Instead of just hitting his noggin on the seat next to him, he ended up with a 'mark' on his neck and throat AND head...

As for the backpacks....

wait till' they are middle school age, wear pants that they can't keep up, papers in one hand, bus pass in the other, coat on their head...

I thought the little kids were bad...

:)

Anonymous said...

Re: wheeled backpacks: I had wondered what the holdup was. It's sheer hell to be caught in your car behind a school bus as the "precious cargo" s-l-o-w-l-y meanders off the bus. Then, five houses later, "lather, rinse, repeat". I don't know how you bus drivers don't go postal.

Anonymous said...

I know school buses are the safest form of transportation on the road. I also know that seatbelts combined with compartmentalization provide the greatest protection in all types of accidents including side impact and rollovers. There is a company who makes a schoolbus seat out of Michigan called M2K. They have invented some really cool safety items for buses such as push button seat belt release and a belt usagemonitor for driver.
Go to www.m2kseat.com to see for yourself.

The Bus Driver said...

Thanks anonymous with the seatbelt link. Each school system does their own thing with seatbelts on buses, and yes, a combination of both is the safest way to transport a child.

Snigglefrits said...

My dad drove a bus for quite a few years, so I know where you're coming from. One thing about the rolling backpacks though- my kids' school doesn't have lockers and they're not allowed to leave their stuff in their desks. I weighed my 3rd grade daughters book bag- 31 pounds. That was required notebooks, books, pens, pencils, crayons, glue sticks, rulers, protractor, paper, dividers, spiral notebooks, etc...

I first went to the school- they can't afford lockers and "can't hold the children responsible for their own items" if they're left in open desks.

A rolling backpack was the only way to go to save my small-sized child from attempting to lug 31 pounds on her back.

I tip my hat to you for doing a very frustrating job though. I know I couldn't handle it (and would probably be locked up for putting half a load of kids off at a dumpster somewhere).

The Bus Driver said...

One thing about the rolling backpacks though, They DO have straps so the child can put them on their backs BRIEFLY while they get on and off the bus. My pet peeve is when the child drags the backpack on the bus and then wheels it down the aisle instead of picking it up and sensibly carrying it above where the seats are narrow.

institutrice said...

I thought the reason busses don't need seatbelts is because they have the high-backed seats which will keep the kids from flying in case of a crash.

So *that* is what's happening to my students' homework - it's on the bus!