DALTON, Ohio (WJW) – As children get back into the swing of school there is a renewed focus on school bus safety, including driver error that could lead to a child getting left behind on a bus.
The concern sparking action from a Wayne County school district who enhanced their fleet of buses with a special alarm designed to eliminate the concern.
“That’s the worry, how long is a student going to sleep on the bus before they wake up and the next thing they know, they’re in a closed garage, that’s dark and they’re alone?” said Dalton Local Schools Superintendent Jim Saxer.
The reminder alarms are hard to ignore once activated and sound off when a school bus is turned off and the bus door is opened. The piercing alarm forces a driver to walk to the back of the bus in order to turn off the alarm.
“A reminder for our drivers to check the bus after their route to make sure no students are left on the bus,” said Saxer.
The investment he said is relatively inexpensive at $156 dollars for each of the eight buses in the district. Installation costs were somewhat less expensive because the alarm system was installed by the transportation supervisor Shane Twining who is also a mechanic.
“$156 per bus when these days it cost, $90,000 that’s easy money to spend,” said Saxer.
“You’re going to have to spend that or have to make a phone call home to a parent that says your kid got left on the bus,” said Twining.
School bus reminder alarms are not required by law according to Ohio State Highway Patrol who conducts school bus inspections.
Akron and Canton public schools have similar alarm systems installed on their school buses. An Akron Public Schools spokesperson said if the driver does not walk to the back of the bus to push a button that logs the child safety check, upon 30 seconds of exiting the bus the horn will beep causing bus lights to flash.
These types of alarm systems Twining said can come standard on certain school bus manufacturers or get installed after purchase.
Cleveland Metropolitan Schools will provide students with ID cards to scan on a tablet when they enter or exit the school bus, allowing the driver as well as parents to keep track of how many students get on and off the bus. The system will go into effect in September according to a district spokesperson.