South Carolina First State to Join Zip. Zero. Nada. None. Campaign
The board of the South Carolina Association for Pupil Transportation (SCAPT) voted at its July 14-18 annual conference in Myrtle Beach to become the first state to embrace a new national campaign with the goal of zero school bus rider fatalities by 2025.The National Association for Pupil Transportation® (NAPT®), the largest yellow school bus industry trade association, developed the campaign, called Zip. Zero. Nada. None. to take pupil transportation safety to the highest level possible.
According to Theresa Taylor, SCAPT President, “We are proud to be the first state to commit to the Zip. Zero. Nada. None. campaign and are confident other states will follow our lead because it's the right thing to do for the students and families we serve every school day.”
“As we listened to the presentation about the campaign, I noted every head was nodding. When our board discussed it afterward and took a vote, it was unanimous,” Taylor added.
NAPT® President Barry Sudduth, CDPT, CSNT, Executive Director of Transportation for the Stafford County Schools in Fredericksburg, VA, commended SCAPT for its leadership. “Congratulations and thank you for not accepting the status quo. Instead, you decided to set the highest bar possible for children who ride school buses in South Carolina. As Walt Disney once said, ‘If you can dream it, you can do it.'"
Sudduth said the campaign starts from a strong point; school buses already are the safest way for children to get to and from school and have the best safety record in the transportation industry, spanning many decades. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of 4 to 6 children are killed each year as passengers in school buses, and an additional 10 to 12 as pedestrians while getting on/off a school bus.
“That South Carolina became the first to step up to the plate is no surprise. It has a history of pupil transportation leadership, including adoption and implementation of Jacob's Law, the nation's first statewide ban on the use of 13-passenger vans in school transportation because they are not as safe as large yellow school buses. I know they will apply the same passion and professionalism to achieve zero fatalities,” Sudduth said.
“This is not simply about doing better, but being the very best we can be,” Taylor said. “We fully agree with other transportation safety leaders that crashes and fatalities are not usually accidents, but predictable and preventable events.”
She explained South Carolina's view that the key to accomplishing the ambitious goal is encouraging school transportation service providers around the country to double down on more than a half-century of operational experience, focusing time, energy and resources on the campaign's components:
School Buses. Making a commitment to expedite the purchase and use of the most advanced fleets of school buses equipped with the latest safety equipment/technology, including event data recorders, a fire suppression system, forward collision warning, collision mitigation systems (like advanced emergency braking system (AEBS) or autonomous emergency braking (AEB); electronic stability control; and pedestrian detection/warning.
School Bus Drivers. Making an extraordinary commitment to conscientious screening/background checks of new and existing school bus drivers to validate no illegal drug use, physical fitness, mental competency and good judgment; provide continuous education and training; and educating the public about the vital roles school bus drivers (and monitors who support them) have in the education system. They are not just drivers, but also role models, mentors, counselors, advisers, and friends, the eyes and ears of every community, interacting with more than 25 million students every school day.
Professional Development. Making a commitment that everyone involved with pupil transportation operations will be a certified professional and have access to training that will enable them to continuously improve their specific skills and knowledge.
Sudduth concluded, “NAPT's commitment to helping the entire industry achieve zero fatalities by 2025 is unwavering and uncompromising, focused on assisting states by identifying common issues that present challenges for school bus operations everywhere. The Zip. Zero. Nada. None. campaign is about encouraging state and community officials to make commitments to safer school buses and safer drivers while recognizing that they may want to target or tailor their focus based on local circumstances. We congratulate SCAPT for its comprehensive commitment to achieving zero fatalities in the most expeditious time frame possible.”