School Transpo Wars: Private Car Versus School Bus
Tue, April 20, 2021

School Transpo Wars: Private Car Versus School Bus


School transportation has changed during recent decades, with more children being driven to school by their parents instead of walking or cycling, said Jessica Westman, Margareta Friman, and Lars E. Olsson of biomedical and life sciences journal PMC. Many children are also entitled to a free school bus ride.

So which one is better? A car or a school bus? When your child gets into the car, you buckle up your child for safety, noted Stanford Children’s Health, a network dedicated to pediatric and obstetric care. But with school buses, you often wonder if your child gets to board the school bus safely and on time.

Parents’ Preferred Mode of Transportation to School (2013)

Na’asah Nasrudin and Abd. Rahim Md. Nor of Science Direct, the world’s leading source for scientific, technical, and medical research, said approximately 44% of the respondents were men while 56% were women. Most respondents said the distance from the house to the primary school is 500 meters to 1 kilometer (61%) and 1.5 to 2 kilometers (6%). For secondary schools, 42% said 500 meters to 1 kilometer and 42% said 2.5 kilometers to three kilometers (16%).

Driving to school was the most common choice for both primary and secondary school students (50% and 48.5%, respectively). Walking was selected as the most preferred mode of transportation (primary school) due to the following reasons: the school was located near to a residential area (72%), expensive school bus fees (25%), no time to send kids to school (100%), and to maintain good health (100%).

When traveling to secondary schools, walking was preferred since it helps maintain good health (100%). 50% preferred walking due to costly school bus fees and 65.2% said the school was near the residential area.

100% said they prefer cycling as the bicycle routes are safe when going to primary schools. 75% and 28% of respondents cited expensive school bus fees and school’s proximity to residential as their reasons for choosing cycling, respectively. When going to secondary schools, costly school bus fees and proximity were cited by 50% and 30.4% of respondents who preferred cycling as a mode of transportation, respectively.

School buses were selected when going to primary schools because the school’s location is too far for kids to walk or cycle (66.7%). The respondents also chose school buses as a mode of transportation as they are quick and convenient (79.4%), have reasonable fees (28.65), and guarantee child safety (4.5%). When going to secondary schools, the reasons for choosing school buses were: the location (too far for kids to walk or cycle; 25%), convenient and quick (4.3%), and reasonable fees (100%).

Parents drove their kids to primary school because of the following: the school’s location was too far for kids to walk or cycle (66.7%), convenient and quick (79.4%), and guaranteed child safety (86.4%). 100% also found that negligence of bus drivers to be worrisome and only 28.6% found the school bus fees to be reasonable. When transporting children to secondary schools, children were driven by their parents because the school’s location was too far for the kids to walk or cycle (75%) and convenient and quick (91.3%). All respondents perceived the negligence of bus drivers to be worrisome. Likewise, all of them believed that driving their kids to school guaranteed their children’s safety.

Regarding the matters to be considered to allow kids to walk and cycle to school, the respondents answered:  improving pedestrian walkways (33%) and having friends or relatives accompany the child when going to school. 90% said there must be an improvement in safety while 84% said the distance to the school should be less than one mile (84%). When asked about the respondents’ feelings when driving a car, they said it is relaxing (34.9%), safe (34.4%), practical (28.6%), and having a sense of freedom (28.1%). However, some parents said driving was tiring (6.5%), boring (4.2%), stressful (3.4%), and troublesome (0.3%).



Why Are Kids Being Driven to Schools?

Westman and Friman’s study, which involved a sample of 245 parents (194 women) of school children aged 10 to 15 in the County of Värmland in Sweden, showed that social convenience directly influenced the mode of transportation. For example, parents might choose to use the car to travel together with their kids, which might be one of the few times during the day when they can be alone with their children.

Parents who believed that transportation via car is the most convenient and quick way of going to school might not be willing to shift to alternative modes of transportation. The latter appeared to consume more time, affecting hectic morning routines. When considering socio-demographic factors, parents with older children valued safety/security less when deciding to drive a car. This is because older kids are more capable of navigating traffic, and parents’ concerns over strangers were likely to be present among younger kids. The disadvantage of driving your kids to school is that they are deprived of opportunities to engage in physical activity and the joy of riding with friends on the school bus, noted Westman and Friman.



Should I Have My Child Ride A School Bus?

An earlier study by Westman and colleagues said kids enjoy and experience greater satisfaction with active modes of transportation, including riding a school bus, mentioned in Springer Link, the world’s most comprehensive online collection of scientific, technological and medical journals, books, and reference works.

School bus accidents can happen. Fortunately, bus companies have installed a mechanical arm that forces your child to stay a certain distance from the bus. Some school districts have also placed cameras on their buses to keep track of motorists who fail to stop for a school bus. You can also play a role in keeping your child safe. For instance, you can keep an eye on your child as they wait for the bus or depart from the vehicle.

You can teach them several safety rules such as staying 10 feet away from the bus or as far away from it as they can and never walking behind it. Tell your child that before crossing, they have to make sure that the bus driver can see them and vice versa. Your child must also ensure that their clothing or book bags do not get caught on the bus’ handrails or doors.

If you are still concerned about your child’s safety, the National School Transportation Association (NSTA), the leading resource for school bus transportation solutions, recommended having one adult present at the bus stop to supervise your child. Encourage your child to sit quietly and listen to the instructions given by the bus driver. In case your child drops something near the bus, tell them to inform the bus driver first.

There’s no shame in letting parents drive their children to school. Maybe they are concerned about safety or they want to spend more time with their kids. Alternatively, school buses help children socialize and have a great time with their peers. Parents should weigh the pros and cons of driving their kids and letting them ride a school bus.