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News SPECIAL REPORT


Arizona student transporters benefit from a driver simulator provided by The Arizona School Risk Retention Trust, with the cost covered by public school districts and community colleges.


Steering Clear of Danger


Despite the proliferation of new onboard safety technologies, training for school bus drivers remains focused on what experts say is their most important function—driving


WRITTEN BY ART GISSENDANER


T


raining for school bus drivers has come under severe scrutiny in the wake of unfortunate and sometimes tragic crashes during the past few years and in which students have been injured or killed. But traffic collisions are just one of the perils facing students


who ride the school bus. Others include missing the bus, getting on the wrong bus, being left on the bus, being hit by their bus or by vehicles passing their bus, or being bullied while on the bus. School districts that can afford it, turn to technology to reduce the dangers students face or are contracting with bus companies to do it for them. Bus drivers must master this technology, which, while becoming part of the training they receive, does not dominate the process. Technology is usually part of a training package that includes the classroom, the internet, behind-the-wheel defensive driving, a CPR or first aid course, and in some cases a school bus simulator experience. “Te training we provide is not so much on the technology side of it, it is the driving,” said Melvin Jefferson, an instructor/trainer with the Education Service Center (ESC) Region 6 in east Texas. “Even though we have a lot of technology on board, the requirements of safe driving are still the same— steer the bus, look where you’re going and where to stop.” ESC Region 6 is an educational component of the state of Texas that operates


in 20 regions. Jefferson said they are prompted by the Texas Department of Transportation, which indicates the areas of the state where they would like the ESCs to conduct driver training, including the use of a simulator. Jefferson added that while the technology tells school bus drivers where the next student should be picked up, what if the student is not there? “You still must make a decision,” Jefferson said. “You must go through proper stopping procedures. If the student is not there you must continue forward.” Stephanie Arbaugh is loss control consultant and bus driver trainer for Te


Arizona School Risk Retention Trust, a self-insurance consortium of public school districts and community colleges that pooled their money to purchase a


30 School Transportation News • OCTOBER 2017


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