JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KY3) - A Missouri Senate Bill would create a special task force to study school bus safety and find ways to keep students as safe as possible during the ride to school.
Senate Bill 609 would establish the “Joint Task Force on School Bus Safety,” which would meet three times a year to study school bus transportation safety in public schools.
“The first seat kids take each day is not in the classroom, it’s on a school bus,” said State Sen. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City.
The team would look at the best safety practices across the country, determining which are and are not working both on and off the bus.
“It’s not so much that kids are unsafe while riding the school bus, it’s to and from,” Razer said. “The biggest danger is when kids walk to and from the school bus.”
While the task force would examine things on board like seatbelt effectiveness, it would also look into issues outside of the bus.
“We see in a lot of states that a lot of cars are passing those school buses, which obviously creates a danger of kids getting hit,” Razer said. “These are going to be issues whether you’re on a city street in Springfield, or you’re on a rural lettered route where someone may fly by a school bus that is stopped and unloading or picking up kids.”
The task force would also look into entrance and exit safety as well as other school bus-related issues. Razer said it could involve exploring new options like school bus cameras, which he said would keep drivers accountable.
Back in Southwest Missouri, some schools said they are always eager find ways to improve school safety.
“School buses are really our safest way to get kids to school. Hands down,” Nixa Public Schools spokesman Zac Rantz said. “And they’ve been that way for a while. And any way we can look for and find ways to make sure our school buses are even safer, then great.”
Rantz said a task force could certainly help, but there is one thing his district would want to be sure of.
“Whatever recommendations that would come out of the task force, we really want to make sure that the money is there to support any of those decisions,” he said. “Because school buses are not cheap.”
The board would include two members from the House of Representatives, two from the Senate, and representatives from the departments of transportation, education and public safety.
If approved, the task force would give the governor and General Assembly an annual report.