7. Share info to bolster student safety
Maximizing student safety on school buses involves sharing pertinent information within the transportation team and with school officials.
“Dispatchers should provide school bus drivers with correct phone numbers, medical alerts, maps, etc.,” says Segal of Walled Lake Consolidated School District.
To avoid losing students, schools should be given “alpha lists, street lists, route times and maps of routes,” Segal adds.
8. Rules on the bus improve passenger safety
• Get to know your students. Be honest with them and follow through with what you tell them. If they know the rules, they know their limits.
• With assigned seats, it takes less time to load. Students know right where to go and there is very little delay. Having assigned seats lets the driver have control of who sits with whom and eliminates possible fights.
• Have the students keep all pencils and pens and all other sharp objects in their book bags. They could cause a serious injury, either because of the bus’ motion or the kids poking them at each other.
• Make sure the students sit with book bags on their laps and not on their backs. When book bags are worn on the children’s backs, they do not sit on the seats properly and do not have the protection of the seats.
• When unloading, have the students stay seated until it is their turn to get off, alternating from side to side. This eliminates pushing injuries.
• Make sure the students use the handrail when they are getting on and off the bus to help prevent possible falls and injuries.
• Make sure the students stay seated while the bus is in motion. Students could get seriously injured if the bus has to stop suddenly and the students are standing and not protected by the seats.
— Submitted by Liza Leonard, driver/trainer, First Student, Grand Ridge, Ill.
9. Refresh skills in back-to-school meetings
Vicki Mattson, director of transportation for Lincolnshire-Prairie View School District 103 in Lincolnshire, Ill., encourages operations to use their back-to-school meeting as a review period.
“Discuss the danger zone and how to correctly adjust a bus’ mirrors,” Mattson says. “Place objects on the ground so that drivers can see what they are supposed to see in the mirrors.”
Hosting a demonstration on how to operate a fire extinguisher can be helpful. Policies can also be reviewed during the meeting. At Mattson’s district, for instance, supervisors must be visible in the parking lot during pre- and post-trip inspections, as well as at school sites while students load and unload.
10. Attend to disruptive students
James Kraemer, founder of 2safeschools.org and a veteran school bus driver, says that bus drivers should not allow disruptive children or others to distract them.
“Establish a safe, calm environment before leaving the school,” he says. “Offer children who refuse to follow directions, bullies and otherwise disruptive children a warning. If the misbehavior continues, offer the student a seat change or to wait outside the bus. Sometimes, an escort to the school office to resolve the misbehavior prior to riding a school bus again may be necessary.”