With the school year well underway, field trips are in full swing. For field trip transportation, some schools utilize school buses, while others rely on parent volunteers. For a little expert advice on the safest ways to transport your littles, we reached out to none other than school transportation expert, Patrisha Tice. Patrisha is the former CHP School Bus coordinator and current Supervisor of Transportation for Gilroy Unified School and knows all things school transportation.
Q. What tips can you give for when my child goes on a school field trip?
A. Many field trips take place on buses, so let’s understand our school buses first. School buses are 8 times safer that regular vehicles. This is due to something called compartmentalization and is the same idea behind egg cartons and how the eggs inside the carton are (for the most part) safe from breaking. School buses made after 2005 have lap/ shoulder belts. Best practice for a child under 8 years of age or 4'9" is to use a child restraint/ booster even in a school bus (if equipped with lap/shoulder belts). School buses made before 2005 are not mandated to have seat belts and are grandfathered in & utilize compartmentalization rather than seat belts.
Q. Sometimes parents volunteers drive on school field trips. What are your thoughts?
A. If school buses are an option, use them! This is for several reasons. As we learned earlier, school buses are 8 times safer than a vehicle and school bus drivers are trained to transport many children. Beyond those compelling reasons, trying to properly transport other children is challenging and the driver is responsible for all of their passengers. This means everyone onboard needs to be correctly retrained either with a child restraint/booster seat or correct use of a seat belt.
Q. What if my daycare transports my child?
A. The same transportation rules that apply to schools, apply to daycares. A driver cannot transport more than 10 passengers unless they have obtained a Class B license. Then the driver can transport more than 10 children in a CHP inspected vehicle. As with our personal vehicles, a child must be in a child restraint/ booster until age 8 or 4’9” inches in height. If the daycare has child restraints, do ask if the child restraint is expired, has been involved in a crash, and for the daycare provider to make sure the children they transport correctly fit in the child restraint. Encourage the daycare to have their child restraints inspected by making an appointment with a certified child passenger safety technician.
Thank you to Patrisha for her expert advice. As parents of school-age children, her advice hit home for our families. Our children have been in schools where parents drive on field trips and schools where school buses are always used. Statistically, 75% of all child restraints are installed incorrectly. Therefore, being a parent or daycare provider does not guarantee your little one’s child restraint will be safely installed. If you can advocate for a school bus, we encourage you to do so. And advocate for daycare providers to get their seats checked. (I have pulled my boys from a home daycare that used expired child restraints and did not properly adjust the child restraint each time a different child used the car seat.) To find a list of car seat inspection station’s visit: http://www.safercar.gov/cpsApp/cps/index.htm or make an appointment with beep! beep! car seat: http://www.beepbeepcarseat.com/car-seat-services.html