The family of Hunter Pitt, who was killed when his school bus ran over him, watches a safety video they worked on with Missouri organizations. On screen is the driver of the bus that ran over Hunter, Willie Leonberger.
The 2012 National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) Summit was held in Memphis, Tenn., in October, and the program offered attendees information on a wide range of issues impacting the industry. Distracted driving and bullying were the subjects of several sessions. Presenters discussed their effects, ways to avoid inattentive driving and how to address bullying incidents.
A notable event of the trade show was Blue Bird Corp.’s unveiling of its redesigned 2014 All American Type D buses.
Managers’ role in distracted driving
Much has been reported on the dangers of distracted driving by motorists. In an interesting session by Kathleen Furneaux, executive director of the Pupil Transportation Safety Institute, she talked about ways that transportation managers can create distractions for bus drivers while they’re on the road, and how to curb this.
Routes that are inefficient and spaced too close together can lead to a dangerous situation, Furneaux said, because it fosters rushing on the part of the bus driver. By extension, if routes are too full, this can be stressful for drivers.
Furneaux encouraged transportation directors and managers to review their routes and revise them if necessary, particularly if drivers say that they don’t have enough time to complete them, and make eliminating overloaded routes a priority.
Unnecessary two-way radio use while the bus is in operation is also a distraction for drivers, and managers should be proactive in preventing it by having a policy in place and enforcing it, she added.
Examples of unnecessary radio use include conversations between drivers, delivering holiday greetings, and even delivering safety messages.
“Instead of saying safety messages over the radio, put an announcement in the drivers’ lounge or in their mailboxes, or say it before they start their route,” Furneaux added.
Kathleen Furneaux, executive director of the Pupil Transportation Safety Institute, said that a manager’s badattitude can rub off on bus drivers, thereby impacting their actions behind the wheel.
Beyond the school bus environment, if a manager has a bad attitude, this can rub off on the rest of the team, thereby impacting drivers’ actions behind the wheel.
“Your behavior becomes the noise in a driver’s head, which can lead to distracted driving,” Furneaux said.
She encouraged attendees to be positive role models for their staff, and ensure that they’re supporting them. This means not only getting drivers the information they need in a timely manner, but communicating to them how you, as the manager, are advocating for them.