Keeping children safe on the school bus is not only the role of the bus driver, but also the role of the school district and community. Here are five tips for school bus safety that provide another way of looking at what's needed for safety for our students:
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.
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.