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July 12, 2012  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Bus yard safety, inside and out

Physical security such as fences and video surveillance, in addition to providing your drivers and other staff with ID badges and safety training, can go a long way in securing your bus yard.

by Brittany-Marie Swanson

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Garfield School District Re-2’s bus yard is fully fenced in and monitored using Bensoftware’s SecuritySpyvideo surveillance software.

Garfield School District Re-2’s bus yard is fully fenced in and monitored using Bensoftware’s SecuritySpy
video surveillance software.

The typical school bus yard is teeming with potential safety hazards that must be managed carefully. Drivers, mechanics and other staff navigate the yard while buses and other vehicles regularly enter and exit. The sheer size of some yards — which must be large enough to accommodate a number of buses — can be problematic: potential vandals or thieves could take advantage of unmonitored areas.

So how do you protect your staff, visitors and equipment from potential security threats? To find out, SCHOOL BUS FLEET spoke with transportation directors from three operations about their yards’ security technology, policies and training. If secured and managed properly, they say a bus yard will operate smoothly.

Identify your personnel
The people who come to the bus yard every day — drivers, aides, mechanics and administrators — should be easy to spot. This is relatively simple to achieve, according to administrators.

“Our facility is small enough that we can visually identify anyone new or out of place,” says Sanja Morgan, director of transportation at Garfield School District Re-2 in Rifle, Colo. Even so, she says, “All of our district staff has name badges.”

This is also true of Fairfax County Public Schools in Lorton, Va., according to Assistant Director of the Office of Transportation Services Timothy Parker. In addition to enforcing an identification badge rule, “staff is encouraged to wear bright as opposed to dark clothing for greater recognition.” Many staff members also sport logoed apparel that makes them easier to spot.

At Niagara Wheatfield Central School District in Niagara Falls, N.Y., driver ID badges are inserted into a clear plastic pocket in the front of a reflective vest, Transportation Director Michael Dallessandro says.

Make staff easy to spot
Niagara Wheatfield’s reflective vest policy was the result of a tragedy at the district where Dallessandro previously worked, Lake Shore Central School District in Angola, N.Y. In 2008, longtime bus driver Brenda Chiappetta was struck by a bus while she was walking in the yard at 6 a.m. to start her morning run. She was killed instantly.

“When I came to Niagara Wheatfield, they did not have a safety vest policy,” Dallessandro explains. “At our first driver safety meeting as the new director, I gave about an hour PowerPoint presentation on the fatality — what led up to it, the situation itself and how we healed the district and moved forward from that.”

Now, drivers and monitors are required to wear a reflective safety vest while on the clock.

Similarly, Fairfax County encourages “drivers to buddy-up and avoid being at a remote location alone,” Parker says. Being in groups and wearing bright clothes makes drivers and monitors easier to see, which is especially important during bad weather or when it is dark outside.

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