A private school near Kings Canyon Unified School District uses this photo to remind parents to stay out of bus loading areas.9. Keep loading zones free of cars
If motorists enter school bus loading and unloading zones, it can be dangerous for both students and drivers. John Clements, director of transportation at Kings Canyon Unified School District in Reedley, Calif., says that a private school near his district recognized this and staged the photo above as a reminder to parents to stay out of the zones.
“It is also a good safety reminder that as school facilities personnel and administrators plan for new schools and remodel existing schools, parents’ cars should not mix with school buses in the same loading and unloading areas,” Clements says.
10. Don’t succumb to distraction
Staying focused and avoiding distractions are critical in operating a school bus.
Lawrence of Fairport Central School District recommends limiting the use of radio communications. “This applies to both dispatchers and drivers,” he says. “Relaying unnecessary information back and forth clogs up the radio channel and tends to force drivers to mentally tune out the chatter.”
Chris Telarico, transportation supervisor at Santa Ana (Calif.) Unified School District, says that, unfortunately, the most common distractions are things that need to be dealt with, such as an unruly child or a complaining parent.
“If a parent comes up to the bus to complain about students trampling her lawn, we need to ask her to wait until the students have finished unloading so we can give her our undivided attention,” Telarico says. “Or if you have students having problems on the bus while you are driving, you need to pull over and deal with the situation. When you finish with the problem at hand, take the time to reassess what is happening around you — checking mirrors, traffic, students, etc.”
Montana state pupil transportation director Maxine Mougeot adds that to avoid fatigue, drivers should take a break every three hours on long trips.
11. Rewarding good bus behavior
Kenny Adams, a bus driver for Covington (Ohio) Exempted Village Schools, started a program in which he presents a monthly Safe Rider award to his elementary school passengers. At the end of each month, the students who best follow the rules — staying seated while on the bus, walking and not running to board, being polite and helpful, and keeping the bus tidy — are awarded certificates.
"This has made my bus a lot safer, as students are quieter and help each other more, and just [behave] a lot safer when around buses," Adams says. "They all look forward to the last day of the month to see who wins."
Christopher Zeitvogel of the DoDEA-Pacific Misawa Student Transportation Office says that bus attendants review safety standards with students on the first day of school.12. Relay bus safety rules, laws
Communicating bus rules with students, particularly new riders, is key to maintaining an orderly, safe environment on and around the bus. Christopher Zeitvogel, student transportation manager at the DoDEA-Pacific Misawa (Japan) Student Transportation Office, says that his operation has drafted a list of safety standards that students must adhere to.
Several of the standards are:
• Wait for the bus well back from the curb. Do not approach the bus until
it is stopped and the door is opened. Never run towards your bus as the
• Students are not permitted to talk to friends or pass items through the windows, nor run after or chase the bus.
• Pens and pencils may cause injury if the bus hits a bump, and so are not allowed to be used on the buses.
“On the first day of school, the bus attendant goes over these rules with
their riders,” Zeitvogel says.
Bus safety information and laws should also be shared with the public. David Twiddy, transportation director at Dare County Schools in Nags Head, N.C., has made a practice of running a safety information page in the local papers during the two weeks prior to the start of a new school year.
“It tells everyone to be on the lookout,” Twiddy says. “It also provides the laws dealing with stopped school buses.”