LAFAYETTE, Colo. — The average school day can be fraught with unpredictable student mischief, which is why it is so important for school bus drivers to remain vigilant for any potentially explosive situations that may expose them and their district or contractor to liability.
Steering Clear of Liability: Training for School Bus Drivers is a new training video designed to help drivers do just that. Created and produced by Peggy Burns, president of Education Compliance Group Inc., the video explores a series of real-life cases, many of them tragic, involving driver negligence. Burns narrates each case, dramatized for the viewer’s benefit, and provides insightful commentary on where the driver went wrong, what he or she could have done to avoid the situation and what kinds of common sense procedures could be developed and made explicit by school transportation officials to help drivers negotiate the everyday problems that may arise on the job.
Burns places heavy emphasis on the idea of procedure, making it the guiding force of the video. Having a transparent system in place to regulate bus routes, coordinate drop-off times and establish guidelines for situations that deviate from routine, Burns argues, will significantly decrease the chances of making the district, contractor or bus driver vulnerable to liability.
At the same time, however, the training program is very accessible. It is not shot through with difficult legal terminology, nor is it a tedious prescription of detailed policies that should be adopted. It is assumed that every district or contractor has its own homebrewed system designed to respond to the specific needs of the community it serves.
The program also comes with a helpful six-page guide designed to be a resource for discussion. It offers a list of questions that further explore the situations presented in the video. For the most part, these are not so much “right or wrong” questions as questions designed to facilitate conversation among bus drivers and supervisors, helping everyone come to a better understanding of their interconnecting responsibilities as well as hopefully brainstorming suggestions that could be later implemented as official policy.
Steering Clear of Liability is about 18 minutes long. The video is available in either VHS or DVD format for $160, plus $15 shipping/handling charges, from Education Compliance Group Inc., P.O. Box 221, Lafayette, CO 80026. The toll-free number is (888) 604-6141, or you may contact the company by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— ALFONSO JIMENEZ