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rest of the drill, it is important to tailor the introduction to the age level of the students. Very young children should not be whipped into a state of fright by talking about horrible school bus tragedies, etc. Older children, though, sometimes need a dose of reality therapy, for instance, a news account of a recent bus fire or accident, to get their attention. Involve students. Don’t just lecture. It’s

much better to ask questions and let students supply the answers. For example, ask students to name the riding rules and (especially) why the rules exist. Tis takes strong control skills, however. Lay out the ground rules first: Students must raise their hands, and they cannot talk until recognized. Another simple but effective method for involving students is to ask them to point at the emergency exits on the bus, one exit at a time.

Time the evacuation. Before you start,

tell students that you will time the evacu- ation practice. To add an element of fun, compare the results to how long it took them to complete the previous drill. Limit the drill to 15 minutes. An

effective drill cannot be conducted in three minutes; there is too much to be covered. However, drills should not be excessive- ly long either. Students will stop paying attention, and the school schedule can be seriously disrupted. A very effective drill can be concluded within 15 minutes. Tank the students. If your students paid

attention and took the drill seriously, always thank them at the end. Tank the parents. Some school districts and bus companies send notices home after a drill is conducted, to involve parents in reinforcing key lessons. Daily reinforcement. Good drivers

conduct front door evacuation drills every morning when releasing children at the school. Children should be required to exit just as they would in an emergency, seat-by- seat, starting from the rear of the bus. If chil- dren practice this procedure every day, they will be very good at it in a real emergency. Te best drivers also talk about evacua-

tion preparedness frequently. For example, while waiting to release children in the morning, give them a brief reminder about where the emergency exits are located. Play the “what if ” game with students while stopped in the school zone. Students who know exactly how to

respond to their bus driver’s directions in an emergency do so because of effective prepara- tion. Many school bus drivers have embraced the role of teacher, and in doing so have increased the level of safety for their students. Working in teams or simply tapping the

creative talents of one of your drivers will add interest and an element of fun to the drill, making it time well spent for everyone involved. Optimal safety for students is a challenging, but certainly rewarding goal school bus drivers will ever achieve. 

Kathleen Furneaux is the executive director of the Pupil Transportation Safety Institute in East Syracuse, N.Y., a not-for-profit organization that supports the work of school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada. She is also a member of the National Board of Advisors for the Transporting Students with Disabilities and Preschoolers National Conference.

46 School Transportation News May 2014

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