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Keeping Kids Safe And Engaged On School Buses

Flickr -- Creative Commons

 When a school bus crashes in Kansas City, parents begin wondering how safe school buses really are, and whether they should be required to have seat belts.

It turns out that school buses are by far the safest way to get children to and from school (even counting walking).

According to Paul Fischbeck, a professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, driving your children to school is four to six times more likely to result in an accident than having them take the bus. The most dangerous form of transportation is when teen drivers and motorcyclists transport themselves.

It turns out, a big, clunky, yellow metal box makes a pretty safe vehicle. As a result, not much has changed in terms of school bus technology in the past few decades. Possibly more dangerous is what happens on the bus, especially when it comes to bullying.

One local school district is coming up with some innovative ways to prevent misbehavior, and make the most of what’s usually down time. North Kansas City Schools administrators are piloting a reading program, in which kids are offered books and older students read to younger ones on the bus. North Kansas City has also equipped five buses with Wi-Fi that students can use on field trips. Sports team members can attend class virtually and debaters can prepare their cases while driving to tournaments. 

On KCUR's news program, KC Currents, we discussed what it takes to be a school bus driver, school bus safety, and innovations on school buses.


  • Ernest Garner, school bus driver, Crabtree Transportation in the Belton School District
  • Doug Ward, Student Management School Liaison Coordinator, North Kansas City Public Schools 
  • Kate Place, Principal at Briarcliff Elementary, North Kansas City Public Schools
  • Paul Fischbeck, Professor, Social and Decision Sciences / Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University
Sylvia Maria Gross is storytelling editor at KCUR 89.3. Reach her on Twitter @pubradiosly.
Matthew Long-Middleton has been a talk-show producer, community producer, Media Training Manager and now the Community Engagement Manager at KCUR. You can reach him at Matthew@kcur.org, or on Twitter @MLMIndustries.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and powerful storytelling.
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