Sponsored Content — Partner Update

School Bus Safety Tips By Darryl Hill, Senior Vice President of Safety, First Student

What do student transportation providers do to ensure they provide the safest daily journey for students?

Student transportation providers promote a safety culture through comprehensive training programs, rigorous background checks, and employee behavior positive reinforcement. Innovation and technology advance safety and efficiency to provide a positive student journey experience. Additionally, proactive maintenance programs are designed to exceed districts’ expectations for manufacturer service levels. GPS devices monitor driver performance in key areas to ensure a safe journey.

What can communities do to help ensure their residents adhere to the stop arm?

Communities should partner with their state agencies and local communities to implement a successful stop-arm compliance program. The program should include education, awareness, and enforcement. The entire community, including law enforcement, residents, and the school district, should be educated and understand the law, and what compliance and non-compliance means. Student transportation providers are key in this program, as they should provide another source of awareness and compliance, by properly educating school bus drivers. Progressive communities have awareness programs at civic centers that educate motorists on the law and consequences for not obeying the law. An education/awareness activity may include a variable message board that is located in problem areas, identified by parents and drivers.

It is imperative that law enforcement serves as a deterrent against illegal passing. Patrol officers, working with traffic officers, during school transportation hours, should conduct speed enforcement and stop-arm compliance operations near bus stops and school zones.

The hope is that through education, awareness, and enforcement, communities can ensure that students are safe during the onboarding and offboarding of the school bus.

What are five tips for school bus safety?

1. The importance of a comprehensive training program is a cornerstone for student transportation providers. Whether you choose to self-operate or contract your school bus transportation, a comprehensive training program should include quality classroom instruction, behind-the-wheel skill courses, and road supervisors that periodically monitor driver performance. Evaluating driver training program effectiveness will measure trainee reaction and if learning occurred. Most importantly, training should change behavior and lead to improved safety performance.

2. A student transportation provider must demonstrate that a positive safety culture begins at the top level in the organization. The strongest predictor of safety performance is leadership and safety culture. A leader should conduct touchpoints with team members to reinforce safe critical behaviors. Recognizing team members that adhere to safety policies and procedures should be encouraged.

3. Recognizing the key role of dispatchers is integral to promoting safety. The dispatcher, along with other safety-minded operations leaders, can administer “Fit for Duty” checks with drivers. Dispatchers should be trained to ensure every driver is physically and mentally prepared to safely operate a school bus. Dispatchers can also provide a calming influence when communicating to drivers, especially in a difficult situation.

4. School administrators should identify the appropriate technology innovations that support the district’s strategy and financial plan. New technology should be considered once a positive safety culture and the appropriate policies and procedures are in place.

5. A rock-solid partnership between the school district, parents, and the student transportation provider will strengthen the safety environment, allowing a positive experience of working together, for the shared purpose of keeping all students safe.

Read even more safety tips at See Us At Booth #404

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