COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Starting this week, a new school bus will hit the streets in Columbus.
The bus is a prototype with new safety features, part of a collaboration among Columbus City Schools, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Ohio Department of Education. Its rollout coincides with National School Bus Safety Week, which runs from Oct. 16 through 20.
“For the next three months, we’ll be collecting data from other drivers and the drivers on the bus, from riders and the people that ride along on the buses to see if in fact it’s having the effect we hope it’ll have,” Dr. Dan Good, the superintendent of Columbus City Schools, said.
The prototype bus includes three-point safety seat belts, like the seat belts found in regular cars, as well as some boosters built into the seat backs for smaller children.
Outside the bus are flashing red and amber LED lights on the front to warn oncoming traffic if a bus is slowing down, and bright white ground wash lights along the sides to help bus drivers see better. Reflective striping on the back of the bus is intended to help prevent rear-end crashes caused by other drivers following too closely.
It’s all intended to keep students safe. If feedback is good, these safety features could eventually be part of every school bus in Ohio and across the nation.
“It potentially could be retrofitted on buses, it could be something we order on new buses, it could become the standard for the production of buses in the future,” Good said.
As part of National School Bus Safety Week, troopers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol and other agencies will be stepping up patrols. Sergeant Tiffiany Meeks urged drivers to be aware of their surroundings and follow traffic laws.
“Troopers throughout the state of Ohio are going to be highly visible in and around school zones,” Meeks said. “We’re also going to be riding on school buses looking for motorists passing stopped school buses and other safety zone violations.”
Meeks also reminded drivers that state law requires them to leave at least 10 feet of space if they’re driving behind a school bus.