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October 22, 2007

Tom Butler
(850) 245-0413

Department of Education Announces School Bus Safety Week

TALLAHASSEE – The Department of Education (DOE) today announced October 22-26, 2007, as Florida School Bus Safety Week. This year’s theme, “Be Aware! – Cross With Care,” reminds motorists to stop for school buses when they are loading or unloading students.

“The Department stresses the importance of providing a safe and comfortable environment for our children as they travel to and from school, not only during this week, but throughout the year,” said Education Commissioner Jeanine Blomberg. “Our school buses are one of the safest methods of transportation and we commend the dedicated professionals who work tirelessly to ensure our students arrive safe and ready to learn.”

During Florida School Bus Safety Week, school district and charter school personnel are encouraged to provide activities that recognize school bus drivers and transportation professionals for their commitment to protecting students. As part of this initiative, the DOE will hold an event Wednesday, October 24, at Bond Elementary School in Tallahassee, to provide students an opportunity to learn safety tips from “Buster the Bus®,” a robotic school bus, and “Bob the Builder®,” a popular television character.

The yellow school bus is one of the safest modes of transportation for students. All school buses must meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, as well as Florida School Bus Specifications, that outline precise requirements for their construction and performance.

Florida’s school transportation system is among the largest mass transportation systems in the United States. More than 15,000 public school buses transport more than one million students each day and travel more than 300 million miles throughout the school year. Nationwide, there are more than 450,000 school buses on the road covering four billion miles per year.

The United States and Canada are the only two major countries in the world providing purpose-built buses meeting special safety standards and requirements and having specially trained drivers for transportation of public school students. Florida public school bus drivers are required to pass pre-employment and periodic criminal background checks and drug and alcohol tests. In addition, they must hold a Commercial Driver License with a special School Bus Endorsement.

The National Academy of Sciences found that nationwide fewer than two percent of the traffic fatalities involving children traveling to and from school each year are related to school buses. Florida continues to improve school bus safety by enhancing bus equipment specifications and providing leadership, training, and assistance to local school districts in transporting students safely throughout the state.