Editorial: Teens driving school buses - a risk or an opportunity?

^ Posted Feb. 21

Shenandoah County has a school bus driver shortage. There are 87 routes, and only three substitute drivers available to fill in if a driver is sick or has the day off.

The school system has conducted training sessions for adults interested in becoming drivers, and for the first time, classes are under way for graduating high school seniors.

These students, who must be 18 years old to hold a commercial driver's license, will have to undergo extensive training to be eligible to drive a school bus. But if they pass training and Virginia's requirements, they may be working as substitute drivers in Shenandoah County during the next school year.

So, what do you think about teenagers driving school buses? Good idea, or bad?

A few facts to ponder as you formulate your answer:

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (nhtsa.gov/Teen-Drivers), "...traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in America. Mile for mile, teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers."

The Centers for Disease Control (cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/teen_drivers) reports these facts about teen drivers:

  • Teens are more likely than older drivers to underestimate dangerous situations or not be able to recognize hazardous situations.

  • Teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and allow shorter headways (the distance from the front of one vehicle to the front of the next).

  • The presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers. This risk increases with the number of teen passengers.
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