Not too many years ago, Gary Mobly, the transportation director for Dickson Public Schools, had more than a dozen signs made that read “bus cleared.”
He placed the signs in each of the district’s yellow buses, instructing drivers that once they arrive back to the bus barn and before exiting their vehicle for the night, they were to walk all the way to the back of the bus, scan each seat looking for a student who may have fallen asleep. The sign was to be placed in the rear window of the bus.
“That way, when I drove through the lot at the end of the day, I would know which driver forgot to check the bus,” Mobly said.
Mobly was on to something.
The Dickson Board of Education purchased two new buses this past spring for the district’s fleet of 18. Inside the buses, which seat more than 70 students, is a silver button at the rear of the bus. In the owner’s manual, it is known as the “Leave No Student Behind” alarm system.
Seconds after a bus driver turns off the ignition, if that silver button isn’t pushed, a loud alarm sounds, forcing the driver to walk to the back of the bus to push the button, deactivating the alarm and checking for students.
“I really think this is a great addition,” Mobly says. “I’ve been here over 17 years, and this is the greatest improvements they’ve made to buses.”
In recent years, school safety has become a top priority for school administrators, parents and students, and it extends beyond school buildings and campuses.
Districts across the country are outfitting their school buses and purchasing new buses with the “Leave No Student Behind” system. The system aims to end the possibility of a student accidentally being left on the bus.
Bus drivers do their best to deliver each student to school and home safely, but a student dozing off and missing their stop has been known to happen. And no school district wants to run the risk of a child accidentally being left on a bus overnight.
The technology is being used by other area school districts. This past spring, the Lone Grove Board of Education purchased three buses with the system as a feature, and Marietta schools added a brand new bus to their fleet with the alarm system.
Over the years, safety measures have been taken with school buses. Buses now sport taller seatbacks, better protecting students in the event of an accident, and many school districts have installed cameras for security purposes.
School bus riders wouldn’t notice any difference when riding on the bus, unless they look toward the back and see the silver button, and they will only hear the high-pitched alarm if the driver neglects the post-trip inspection.
At Dickson, the two new school buses were delivered right before the end of the school year in May. Mobly says they will be on the roads beginning Wednesday for the district’s first day.