School Bus Overcrowding, Seating, and Safety in Florida

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The school year brings with it many challenges. One such challenge and problem frequently occurs in the form of school bus overcrowding. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through the Department of Transportation has standards for safe seating (both as to number of children per bench / seat and the design of the bench / seat) under the Code of Federal Regulations Section 571.222 – School Bus Passenger Seat and Crash Protection. There is a formula for calculating the number of students per bench. It depends on the size of the bench. In most school buses, three elementary school children can safety sit together on one bench while two high school students can safety sit together on one bench. School bus overcrowding is a common problem in counties through Florida. The key to addressing the problem is to make the school bus driver and administration aware of the situation. Each school district should have rules and procedures in place for school bus seating and transportation. In St. Johns County (St. Augustine Florida), School Bus Riding Rules provide in part that “the driver has the right to assign seats. Students must sit three (3) to a seat from window to aisle.” Students have an obligation to follow School Bus Rules and can be reprimanded and suspended for improper behavior / conduct on a School Bus. As parents, it is important to speak to your children about the number of students on the bus, conduct on the bus, and the actions / inactions of the school bus driver. Children should be provided with a safe and clean environment on school buses.