Donna North High School junior Noemi Rodriguez rides the bus to and from campus every day. She has been using this method of transportation for 11 years since she was in elementary school. She is fully aware of the rules and the importance of safety. That is why she supports Donna ISD’s newest bus safety training module.

“I think it’s an excellent idea,” Rodriguez said. “As little kids growing up, we’re taught lessons by learning from our mistakes. By using this new training module, children can see the potential of falling and getting seriously hurt. If they learn from this training tool, they won’t have to experience anything like that in real life.”

The training module Rodriguez is referring to is called “Ridership Learning of being on a Bus.” Donna ISD Transportation Director Luis Solis said that his department took a small utility trailer and transformed it into a simulator. Images were installed in the front, back and side of the trailer to make it look similar to the exterior of a bus. Inside, four seats were built along with a big screen that displays a picture of the roadway.

1R3A2915 (1)“The intention of our new training module is to do a mock scenario of a bus driver behind the wheel and students sitting in a regular bus seat,” Solis said. “During the training, transportation staff will explain to the children the 10 rules of riding on the bus and the importance of safety.”

Solis said it is important the children know that the 10 rules should be followed at all times:

* observe same conduct as in the classroom

* be courteous, use no profane language

* do not eat or drink on the bus

* keep the bus clean

* cooperate with the driver

* do not use tobacco

* do not be destructive

* stay in your seat

* keep head, hands and feet inside the bus

* and follow instructions from the bus driver who is authorized to assign seats

The training will target elementary students from throughout the school district. “Students need to understand that riding a bus is a privilege,” Solis said. “We know rules get broken but we believe educating the Pre-K and Kinder students will be impactful because they are at the age when they want to get to know and learn things. They’re new riders and it’s important they understand the dynamics of safety while they’re riding the bus. Being a good citizen and student defines a better ride to school and better ride home every day.”

Solis said that many times bus rules are discussed but never illustrated. As part of the presentation, transportation staff will simulate a bus going over a bump on the road and coming to a sudden stop.

1R3A2923“The children will be able to stand in this simulator while transportation staff push the trailer around manually,” Solis said. “They’re going to feel the motion and the shake-up. We’ll then have the trailer come to a stop so the children will feel how they can lose their balance and realize that at any time they can slip or fall. This is why we’re doing the simulation so they can understand how important it is not to be standing but always be seated when the bus is moving.”

Solis said parents of students who refuse to abide by the rules will be offered the same safety training. “This training module will also be part of parental involvement,” Solis said. “If students are still misbehaving on the bus, we’re going to show the parents what the rules are and show them this module so they can understand and have a one-to-one talk with their children.”

Solis said it is his understanding that Donna ISD is the only school district in the Valley that has such a simulator. But he said he has received calls from other districts interested in coming by to check it out. The simulator will be introduced to students at the start of the new school year in August.