the right thing. Sometimes doing the right thing as an adult is knowing your peers have your back.” Nichols is speaking this month at the STN EXPO Reno on how com- placency can lead to tragedy. He said it’s important to hold each other accountable, because most tragedies begin with some minor irregularity that goes unnoted. Nichols explained that the red flags are minor rules that are broken. But these can lead to 30 minor incidents that are indicators, which in turn become 300 minor incidents that lead up to a tragedy. This is the crux of Heinrich’s Law, developed by William Herbert Heinrich in the 1930s to explain behavior-based safety. “Nothing happens imme- diately. But that tells you the culture is not having an impact on people’s behavior,” he added. “The culture’s job is to shape behaviors.” Nichols said that another characteristic of a safety culture is that people embrace being viewed as protectors of children, which many student transporters already do. “Along with policies, you must get people to realize the joy of being a protector,” Nichols said, suggesting that it helps to recog- nize the highest achievers. “It brings pride in what you’re doing. Everyone from the janitor on up must have a protector mindset.” Jeff Cassell, the founder of School Bus Safety Company, said a safety

culture means “doing it right the first time, every time.” According to Cassell, “When you establish norms where everybody does

it right the first every time, then you have a safety culture.” Cassell feels that “Management should decide what norms to set and devise a plan to achieve those norms. Then get the leadership. You must lead, train, edu- cate, reward, punish and incent[ivize]. Then you have a safety culture.”

The Trickle-Down Effect Leadership dictates the quality of a school district’s commitment to

a safety culture. Launi Harden, transportation director for Washington County Schools and the president of the Utah Association for Pupil Trans- portation, said safety culture is comprised of consistency and boundaries, which come from the top. “My boss and I have to be on the same page. It takes collaboration and com-

munication,” Harden said. “You have to speak the same language and have the same priorities from the top to the bottom and from the bottom to the top.” Cassell said the culture of a transportation operation is shown by the ap- pearance of its employees, plus the maintenance of equipment and facilities. “If I visit a school yard and I see dirty buses, dents in the buses, holes in the asphalt and fences, they have established their own level of norms and deemed them acceptable,” Cassell said. “If the drivers are dressed very scruffy and look away instead of asking if they can help me, again, those are norms the leadership has established and deemed acceptable. If I go down the road and they have clean buses, good signage, and a driver looks up with a smile and offers to help me, they obviously have good leadership.” Added Dorn: “You must have a customer service mindset for staff. An

alert staff member will notice when a student needs help or [behavior] needs to be de-escalated. When drivers carry themselves in a professional manner and get along with students, that builds good relationships with the community. It’s impossible to get buy-in from the community if they don’t trust you. That’s why it’s important to treat everyone internally and externally with a professional attitude. That’s an important part of a safety culture, because bus drivers are the eyes and ears of the district.”

Smallville Independent School District *011068*


SMART tag is the premier student ridership

management solution. Our rugged driver tablet and use of RFID cards help ensure students get on the right bus, get off at the right stop and are not left on the bus. Our state-of-the-art solution provides many features including:

• Patented Guardian Release • Pre/Post-trip Inspections • Reimbursement reports including Special Education and State Headcount Reports

• Real-time fleet and student visibility through our secure web portals for transportation, campuses, and parents

• Messaging system for driver and parent communication

Give us a call to find out all that SMART tag can do for you!

“SMART tag truly is a magnificent leap in student transportation… the tablet does so much it's actually unbelievable.”

Josh Rice

Dir. of Transportation New Caney ISD, TX 512.686.2360 See Us At Booth 106 31

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