Posted by Rich Kuder on 5/27/2018
We are all broken-hearted by the school bus tragedy last week involving students and teachers from Paramus. It has raised many questions about school bus safety, including driver qualifications and the use of seatbelts. We want to reassure everyone that everything is being done to ensure the safety of students who are taking trips that require the use of school buses and coach buses.
The Wyckoff School District does not own its own buses or hire bus drivers. All regular district routes are provided through Region One, a consortium of neighboring Bergen County school districts. Region One manages our contract with First Student, one of the largest transportation companies in the United States. The school bus transportation industry is one of the most regulated industries in the country, and according to statistics, a school bus is the safest way for students to get to and from school. All school bus drivers are fully-vetted and cleared by First Student, and must meet all applicable State and Federal regulations. Other vendors may be used for field trips, but all school bus vendors must follow the same guidelines.
The District has scheduled many field trips over the next several weeks that will use either school buses or coach buses for transportation purposes. For some trips, coach buses are a more suitable option since bathroom facilities and air-conditioning are available. While all of the school buses have seat belts, all coach buses do not. Prior to 2015 motorcoaches were not required to have seat belts, and there is no provision in the law requiring older buses to be retrofitted. Each school is trying to find coach buses with seat belts, but they are not always available. The decision to use buses without seat belts is not a cost issue, but an availability one. We have made every effort to secure coach buses with seat belts for upcoming field trips.
We have been asked if parents can elect to drive their child rather than have them transported on a bus. Parents are not permitted to drive their child to a field trip. It is a class trip and the students will be transported and accounted for as a class. Not only is driving in your car statistically much less safe, but also it puts unreasonable demands on the teacher and the other chaperones to coordinate attendance and the trip.
Below are links that might be of interest to you and contain additional information regarding bus safety and driver qualifications:
We understand and appreciate your concerns in reaction to the tragic events in Paramus. Should you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact your child’s school principal or my office.
Dr. Richard Kuder