California's Best Kept Secret?
The Yellow School Bus
The Yellow School Bus is the safest, most economical and friendly method of transporting California's school children. According to the National Safety Council in 1996,Yellow School Buses were:
- 172 times safer than the family automobile
- 8 times safer than passenger trains
- 8 times safer than scheduled airlines
- 4 times safer than transit buses
- 4 times safer than intercity buses
The U.S. Department of Transportation requires many additional safety features be built into school buses not found on any other public or private vehicle. School buses are inspected each day before going into service by the driver and once every 13 months by the California Highway Patrol Motor Carrier Division. These important inspections ensure the buses are safe and properly maintained. Also, mechanics are required to perform exhaustive safety inspections every 45 days or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first.
School bus drivers are required to receive a special license in order to drive a school bus. Once a license is obtained, drivers must accumulate a minimum of 10 hours of continuing education or in-service hours each year. Additionally, they must either pass a first aid test administered by the California Highway Patrol or maintain a valid first aid card. School bus drivers are also required to take a physical exam every two years until 65 years of age, at which time they must receive a physical every year. Prior to completing their Special Driving Certificate, drivers must pass an exhaustive background check by the California Highway Patrol. This includes verification by the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Waiting at the Bus Stop
Make sure to arrive at the bus stop a few minutes earlier than the pick-up time. When you arrive, be sure to wait on the sidewalk, or if no sidewalk is available, wait away from the edge of the roadway. While waiting for the bus to arrive, respect other people's property and do not engage in horseplay, pushing or shoving. If the bus does not arrive at the normal pick-up time, do not leave immediately, unless you need to. Be patient and wait for a short while before leaving the stop. Buses, like other vehicles, get caught in traffic and sometimes run late. However, you can be sure that a school bus will come by the assigned stop to pick up students.
Boarding the Bus
As the bus pulls up to the stop, make sure you are in a single file line at least 12 feet away. Do not approach the bus until the driver brings the bus to a complete stop, sets the brakes and opens the door. If you are late to the bus stop and on the opposite side of the street, wait for the driver to get out and escort you across the street. If you drop something while boarding and it falls under the bus, or in front of or behind the bus, DO NOT GO AFTER IT. TELL THE BUS DRIVER IMMEDIATELY and he/she will turn off the engine and assist you in retrieving the item. Once you board the bus, quickly find a seat and sit down. Make sure to keep all of your belongings either on the floor at your feet or in your lap. Move over close to the window so that someone else may sit down in the seat next to you. Do not save seats or otherwise block the seat from someone else.
Riding the Bus
Riding the bus is a privilege. While you are riding, you should talk quietly with your neighbor. Do not yell, scream or create any other type of distraction to the driver. When the bus approaches a railroad track, stop talking and wait quietly until the bus is across the railroad tracks. If you are harassed, bullied or in any way bothered while on the bus, make sure to tell the driver immediately. If you are afraid to tell the driver, then talk to a parent or teacher and they can call the transportation department to report the situation.
Exiting the Bus
As the bus approaches your bus stop or school, make sure you gather all of your belongings. Wait until the bus has come to a complete stop, the driver has set the brakes and the front door is open. Then quickly stand up and without pushing or shoving, walk down the aisle way to exit the bus. Make sure that there are no loose strings (drawstrings, shoe laces, etc.) hanging from your clothes. These could be caught in the step well as you exit the bus. As soon as you exit the bus, immediately walk away from the bus unless you have to cross the street where the bus is stopped. If you must cross the street, be sure to wait for the driver to get off the bus, at which time he/she will use a handheld stop sign to help safely escort you across the street. All drivers in the Oceanside Unified School District are required to escort you across the street regardless of your grade or age. Once the driver tells you it is safe to cross the street, you must cross between the front of the bus and the bus driver. NEVER walk to the back of the bus and then cross the street.
The front of the bus is the most dangerous area. Children exiting the bus should walk straight ahead, away from the bus for at least 12 feet before turning in either direction. Within the bright red zone at the front of the bus are a number of "blind spots" in which the driver cannot see a small child or one who is stooping to pick up a dropped article. It is important for young children to understand that all of the “red area” is dangerous because the driver may not be able to see them there.
The large red arrow at the top right shows the area of special danger from passing cars and other vehicles. It is against the law for a car to pass a stopped school bus; however, an occasional driver violates the law. Since the large bus hides children from the sight of a driver passing from the rear, this situation is particularly dangerous.
A third area of special danger is the bright red area at the right rear of the bus. Small or stooping children in this danger area (from the right rear wheel to the back of the bus) cannot be seen by the driver. The safety rule for this danger zone is very simple: Children should stay out of it at all times.
Tips For Motorists
- School zone speed limits are 25 mph with children present !
- When approaching intersections, drivers must watch for children. Kids don't always remember to look for traffic and may step out in front of you.
- Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood.
Secondary students residing on Camp Pendelton may choose transportation on a pass fee bases. The district will use a sliding scale for fees based on total family income. The income guidelines are established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and are similar to those used in accordance with the federal free/reduced lunch program.
If you believe you qualify for a reduced bus pass fee, please fill out the appropriate application and submit all required documentation. You will be notified if you qualify and what your fees will be. Applications can be obtained through the district’s transportation department or by calling (760) 966-4445.