School Bus Handbook—Only the Tip of an IcebergEditorial by Deborah D. Stewart
The new School Bus Safety Handbook has generated quite a response from SRN readers who, I expect, are among the most avid advocates and the first-adopters of anything that can extend their CPS knowledge. Now we are reaching out to the school transportation world. Those folks are our main audience, as the organization of the book shows. The first part is for those who make the decisions about which child safety restraint systems (CSRS)* to purchase to fit the needs of their districts’ buses and children. The second part is about correct CSRS installation and use for those who have hands-on, daily involvement. While writing the handbook, I was immersed in the nitty-gritty details of how school buses, kids, and CSRS do and don’t fit together. I do not envy the very complex task of those who must choose CSRS to fit both their buses and the particular children they transport. I also do not envy the school bus drivers, aides, and monitors who install CSRS and use them on a daily basis for the children in their charge. They do a Herculean job to keep those kids as safe as possible. I must stress to SRN readers, most of whom probably have little school bus experience, that the handbook is just the tip of the iceberg of CPS for school buses. It is written with the expectation that people using it will have, or seek, experience with school bus seats, belts, and CSRS. I hope you can help us establish an understanding among CPSTs that it takes more than CPS certification and a handbook to be a school bus CPS expert. It also requires training and experience specific to school buses. That’s why the NHTSA curriculum, “Child Passenger Safety Restraint Systems on School Buses: National Training,” is so valuable for school personnel as well as for CPSTs. It offers an unparalleled opportunity for experience in school buses and with bus-specific products. I encourage the organization of NHTSA classes all around the country. However, in order to hold many more classes, more CPSTs with school bus training and experience will be needed as instructors. The course can be taught by CPSTs with school bus experience, so taking the class is the first step. At this time, it is available mainly at several national conferences. The next good opportunity for CPSTs will be next March at the Conference on Transporting Students with Disabilities and Preschoolers (page 8). Six CEUs are offered. The entire conference should be beneficial to any CPST who is involved in special needs. I’ll be going, for sure! Get out your ice ax and join me in exploring the iceberg!
* Child safety restraint system (CSRS): Term for all types of CPS systems on buses. It is used instead of “child restraint,” because to some people that implies disciplinary restraint.
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