You’re Riding the Bus (Again)

You're riding the bus (again).
Take precautions to make bus rides as safe as possible for marching arts participants.

A few years ago, Netflix released the series “The Magic School Bus Rides Again.” Ms. Frizzle’s subtle yet enthusiastic reminder to put on “Seatbelts, everyone!” is in the introduction before every episode.

Like Ms. Frizzle, every teacher has a responsibility for the safety of their students. A bus is one of the safest means of roadway transportation today and used regularly by marching ensembles. An enthusiastic yet gentle reminder of appropriate behavior should be made regularly. The sounds and actions of passengers should never disrupt or distract the driver from his or her essential duty.

Seatbelts or Not?

Despite Ms. Frizzle’s reminder, not all school buses in the United States are equipped with seatbelts. This subject has been highly debated; only six states—California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, and Texas—have required seatbelts for school buses. If seatbelts are available, use them!

Whether or not the school bus is equipped with seatbelts, federal requirements have led to higher seat backs on school buses for improved protection by compartmentalization.

Every motorcoach built after November 2016 is required to be equipped with seatbelts. An older motorcoach is not required by federal regulations to retrofit seatbelts. Remember, a seatbelt is only effective if it is used!

Equipment Storage

A marching band or drum corps has a lot of stuff! If your bus resembles an episode of “Hoarders,” unsecured equipment can cause injury or death in the event of a sudden stop or collision. Consult your bus contractor or local school district policy for guidance; however, consider these rules of thumb:

• All personal items (backpack size or smaller) should be safely stored on the lap of the passenger, under the seat, or in a designated cargo compartment.
• All aisles should remain clear from obstructions at all times.
• Instrument cases and other equipment (backpack size or larger) should be stored in a designated cargo compartment, trailer, or commercial truck.

Almost every performance will require the transportation of people and equipment from place to place. Even in moments with the highest levels of enthusiasm, remember to make a few subtle safety reminders. As Ms. Frizzle says, “Seatbelts, everyone!” and be safe wherever your travels take you.

About author

Justin Eberly

Justin Eberly is a volunteer firefighter and active emergency medical technician in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. He presents emergency services educational and training programs locally and nationally. Eberly has played trumpet for 15 years, previously performing with Cumberland Valley High School in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and Shippensburg (Pennsylvania) University. He also serves as a marching band instructor.

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