October 15, 2004
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Legislative Liaison/PIO
(505) 827-7803 or 988-0582 pager

Governor Richardson Proclaims October 17-23
'School Bus Safety Week' in New Mexico

(Santa Fe, NM)--Governor Bill Richardson has proclaimed the week of October 17-23, 2004 as “School Bus Safety Week” in New Mexico. In his proclamation, Governor Richardson urges all citizens to exercise courtesy and caution concerning school buses so that children have the safest possible system of transportation. He also urges citizens to recognize the skills and dedication of the thousands of people who make the system possible.

New Mexico Secretary of Education Dr. Veronica C. García said, “New Mexico’s school transportation system maintains one of the best safety records nationwide. We are proud of our safety record. It reflects the dedication of all the state’s school transportation employees.” She continued, “Every public school transportation employee has received safety awareness training to further assure that school buses are free from any security threat.”

The Office of Homeland Security has teamed-up with the Public Education Department to develop a training model for school transportation employees. It provides the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively identify and report perceived security threats and appropriately react to actual security incidents if they occur. It is available to other states, and New Mexico officials are scheduled to train trainers from around the country in November.

In 2003-2004, a little more than half of students (174,044) enrolled in public education in New Mexico were bused to school daily on more than 2,350 buses, which traveled in excess of 33 million miles. New Mexico’s school bus drivers must complete extensive annual training programs and are required to conduct daily pre-trip inspections of their school buses.

As part of School Bus Safety Week, Secretary Dr. García said New Mexicans should make a commitment to exercise additional caution when they encounter school buses, particularly when buses’ warning lights are in the flashing mode. “School buses are the safest form of vehicular transportation in the country. With increased awareness on the part of motorists, we can keep it that way,” she said.