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FirstStudentKid
Senior Member

USA
126 Posts

Posted - 06/04/2004 :  2:37:05 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
At my former school, the district decided to use a non-yellow bus with a purple color for usage in transporting students. Initially, the vehicle was only used outside of school to transport sport teams. Recently, they started using it to drive field trips during the school day. My Earth Science class was scheduled to ride the purple bus on a field trip to a local sewage plant. I objected to the non-First Student, non-yellow school bus transportation and I ended up with arguments with school administrators and my teacher. My points were the following:
1. The lack of check for sleeping children after running their field trips.
2. The non-usage of headlights when operating the school bus.
3. The lack of bus driver experience and certification. The teacher drives the bus. Usually the teacher driving the bus will have a CDL, but not necessarily a school bus permit.
4. Their purple bus lacked compartmentalization, but instead included seat belts.
5. Their bus does not run a pre-trip inspection prior to driving the field trip.
6. A First Student story exists about the purchase of the purple bus. Supposedly, First Student had a charter route scheduled to leave at 4 PM to arrive at 5 PM for a football game. The bus arrived at the school for 3:50 PM and no-one was waiting for them. The driver waited until 4:40 PM when the team came out. The coach told her that he expected the bus driver to drive at 80-100 mph to get the team to their 5 PM game. The driver refused and drove safely and they arrived at 5:40 PM (1-hour trip duration). As they were arriving late, the coach told the driver that it would be the last time they would use First Student for charter and they would buy a bus to transport themselves. Personally, I think that the story is a little exagerated, but some of it is probably true. The school board never approved or authorized the purple bus purchase and the vehicle suddenly appeared only a few weeks after this incident.
7. Many First Student passengers observed the vehicle drive through a railroad crossing without stopping to look for a train.

The school responded to the allegations by saying:
1. High school kids NEVER fall asleep and it is a waste of time to look for them.
2. Headlights are only needed when required by law.
3. Non-yellow buses do not have any requirements on the driver as long as the driver has an appropriate Gross Vehicle Weight on their license.
4. Seat belts are better then compartmentalization.
5. Nothing ever goes wrong and no pre-trip inspection is needed.
6. First Student never tells an accurate story.
7. They do acknowledge that the bus fails to stop at railroad crossings. According to them, that is only required for school buses.

First Student passengers countered their response by saying:
1. In one local incidents, the check for sleeping children found bombs planted on school buses. Another incident involved the discovery of raccoons that were hiding on the school bus. Therefore, the driver never knows what they will find when conducting a check for sleeping children.
2. First Student believes that headlights should be operated at all times and we will no ride a non-headlight operated bus.
3. It is ridiculous for un-certified personnel to be allowed to transport school children just because the bus is not yellow.
4. Seat belts can leave students trapped in the school bus and stranded after the accident. Compartmentalization was developed to be effective on school buses.
5. In a May 4, 2004 School Bus Fleet news report titled "Juveniles Sabotage school bus by cutting brake lines," it is quite clear about what will happen without a good pre-trip inspection.
6. No comment.
7. Their response sounds a bit absurd.

They refused to respond to our response of a response and instead chose to allow students to choose whether or not they would ride the purple bus. Initially, they planned to force students to ride the purple bus and no permission slip would be distributed. The school also contested that there is no objective non-First Student support for any of our 7 claims. I found some potentially useful data at the following pages:
http://www.ntsb.gov/publictn/2002/SR0203.pdf
http://www.nasdpts.org/documents/papervans.pdf
http://www.nasdpts.org/documents/PubSBMTCMiniGuide04.pdf
http://www.ntsb.gov/publictn/2002/HAB0202.pdf
http://www.ntsb.gov/publictn/2000/SR0002.pdf
http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/nrd-01/SAE/SAE2003/Tessmer.pdf
http://www.isbe.net/Funding/pdf/busdriver_trainmanual.pdf
(The document above is the Illinois School Bus Permit study guide)

I would like to hear comments on all 7 points of arguement. Also, could someone look at the links and tell me if any are relevant? If none of them are relevant, could I have some suggestions for good formal safety conscious websites? Thanks!

NvrDnDrmn2003
Active Member

USA
19 Posts

Posted - 06/05/2004 :  11:16:10 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
WOW FirstStudentkid!! Good for you! I can not belive that the use of that bus with out proper everything(from the sounds of it) is ever being allowed by the school, the district, or by the parents!


"The school responded to the allegations by saying:
1. High school kids NEVER fall asleep and it is a waste of time to look for them.
2. Headlights are only needed when required by law.
3. Non-yellow buses do not have any requirements on the driver as long as the driver has an appropriate Gross Vehicle Weight on their license.
4. Seat belts are better then compartmentalization.
5. Nothing ever goes wrong and no pre-trip inspection is needed.
6. First Student never tells an accurate story.
7. They do acknowledge that the bus fails to stop at railroad crossings. According to them, that is only required for school buses."


#1 -- Who in thier right mind is going to say that high school students don't fall asleep? Since I have been driving bus I have had ---wow I can not count the # ---high school students fall asleep on my bus!

#2 Yes, maybe headlights are only required by law. Ya, no what? I will do anything to try to make my bus stick out in the croud! I figure if I stick out maybe someone will notice that I am a loaded school bus carring up to 90 people! They really need to think about what they are saying b4 they make these kind of statements!
#3 NON YELLOW BUS -- yeah by law if the bus is not yellow it is not classified as a school bus. Then that bus does not fall under the guidelines of school buses. But it is a school using that bus an ya would think that the bus should fall under all the special saftey requirements. As a parents myself, I would NEVER let my child ride on a bus that was not checked out like it is required by law.
#4 Seatbelts... Ok What Planet is this school district from? Cause they certainly are not from this one! We had a district saying they were going to get it written into their contract for us to have seatbelts an ya no what? They decided to drop the whole thing after they found how the students would be trapped on the bus and there would be NO way the driver could get all the students out of their belts quick if need be.
#5 Nothing ever goes wrong? Well I guess they have been LUCKY! At some point they are going to get "caught with their pants down" per say. I will like to see them try to explain to the parents of those students how nothing ever goes wrong when thier child is dead because of their negligence!
#6 They are saying that First Student never tells the truth. Sounds like they are callin the kettle black!!!
#7 Railroad crossings -- well this will be another place where they will have so much explaining to do!

The rules that we as bus drivers abide by are there for a reason. The SAFTEY of our students! I am never going to worry about making an hour long trip in 15 minutes! I am however going to worry about my proper pre-trip and abiding by the speed limits and safely stopping at railroad crossings! If that means that they would fire me or they would not hire me as thier driver -- well SO BE IT!
I drive for FIRST STUDENT! Where our FIRST thought is the saftey of our STUDENTS!!!

Give Respect Get Respect
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mair
Senior Member

USA
95 Posts

Posted - 06/05/2004 :  12:21:04 PM  Show Profile  Send mair an AOL message  Reply with Quote
1. High school kids NEVER fall asleep and it is a waste of time to look for them.

I know of lots of high school kids that fall asleep. But hey, if that’s a chance that they are willing to take, then they will have to face the wrath of the irate parent who is waiting and worrying for their child to come home, who doesn’t, because he/she has been left behind on the school bus. Perfectly logical to me eh? Good luck to them!

2. Headlights are only needed when required by law.

I’m not sweating the headlight thing, but I surely expect them to be on as required by law, which may be a certain amount of time before dusk, and after dawn, and also during inclimate weather.


3. Non-yellow buses do not have any requirements on the driver as long as the driver has an appropriate Gross Vehicle Weight on their license.

Bologna. Depending on the area and the regulations of that area pertaining to the number of allowable passengers, a passenger endorsement is necessary. School bus or not. 11 football players, a couple of coaches, water boy and a mascot would definitely require a passenger endorsement just about everywhere.


4. Seat belts are better then compartmentalization.

Maybe in a car, and maybe even in one of the vehicles we’re discussing, but if you’re talking about a driver as mentioned below, who’s driving across railroad crossings without stopping, heh, give me that compartmentalization please.



5. Nothing ever goes wrong and no pre-trip inspection is needed.

I wouldn’t drive in these peoples personal vehicles never mind their bus. No doubt, they never check their oil, coolant, and I bet you their tires are bald. Its unlikely that these people would give much care to the busses carrying children because obviously, they have super powers that grant them immunity to unfortold events. I wish I had those powers.



6. First Student never tells an accurate story.

Maybe the first student division and the people in question are having trouble seeing eye to eye. Seems to me like there’s underlying problems that have nothing to do with student transportation going on here.


7. They do acknowledge that the bus fails to stop at railroad crossings. According to them, that is only required for school buses."

(annoying buzzer sound) Aren't all passenger vehicles are required to stop in most states? I read that in Kentucky, even chauffeurs (limo drivers) must stop for non gated railroad crossings. It’s beyond me why you wouldn’t want to even if it were not required. Apparently they’ve never driven in Newmarket NH, where the 85 mile per hour train comes barreling down that track relentlessly, giving no time to get off the track, if you were crossing it.


I worked for a bus company once who let the coaches drive the busses. I came into work one day and my stop sign was completely ripped off of my bus and dangling by wires, glass on the ground, dent in the side of the bus. When I asked what the heck happened to my bus, I was told that one of the coaches backed the bus they were driving into the side of my bus when he was bringing it home.

Thats a feller that I want to drive MY kids around!


Transporting the window lickers of New Hampshire
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SOS
Advanced Member

USA
253 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2004 :  05:28:57 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Talk about things that make me go grrrr!

You need to pick up a few copies of the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Regulations Handbook. Pass them on to the folks making these ridiculous decisions and comments. Make sure they know they are supposed to read them. Perhaps this might enlighten them to the serious consequences they will face for failure to follow federal laws.

Any vehicle designed to carry 15 passengers including the driver requires a CDL "with passenger endorsement". It does not matter if only the driver is in the vehicle it is based on the design of the vehicle itself. (That's federal law and not to be overridden by any state or local enity.)

Any vechile classified as a commercial vehicle is only to be driven by a properly licensed (CDL) driver and is to conform to all standard set by the FMCSR.

Any CDL licensed driver who fails to follow proper pre-trip and post-trip criteria is breaking federal laws. These inspections are for "Safety and the law requires it".

Proper railgrade crossing procedures is mandatory with passengers on board, again by federal law. (In my state (Georgia) we are required to stop loaded or empty with a school bus.)

I am a fan of compartmentalization on buses, so for me the seatbelt argument stops here. No way do I want seatbelts in a multi-passenger bus.

Someone needs to alert the Federal Department of Transportation to the stunts these ninnies are tying to pull. I wonder what your state department of education might have to say to all this as well?

Just for the record I have a son who is high school age and he is most likely the first one to fall asleep in any vehicle. More than once in our personal automobile I have had to shake him to get him to wake up. These folks best be glad this parent dosen't have her son on thier roster for this kind of trip in their purple bus.

You might mention the fines they will face for failure to follow federal law concerning the operation of a commercial motor vehicle. Apparently any and all safety protocol never crossed their minds! Perhaps the threat of hitting them where it hurts, (in their wallet), might wake them up.

Grrrrr!

You gotta Love em' to Carry em'

Edited by - SOS on 06/07/2004 04:12:17 AM
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CountGirl
Top Member

USA
823 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2004 :  9:24:50 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
"Now where do you live?" the driver of 3366 asked me the first day of sophomore year (grade 10, in high school).
"NOT Here!" was my color-draining from face response. Tears began to fall down my cheeks and the driver of 3366 tried to comfort me rapidly so I would stop crying.

For all of those who don't know, that was my reaction when I realized I woke up on the other side of town then I belonged. Sure, I woke up on my own, sure, the driver managed to be a friend of my parents and know exactly where I lived when I started explaining it....I could go on forever, but I will arrive at the same answer: SLEEPING CHILD CHECKS ARE REQUIRED, even if they wake themselves up and tell you very adamantly that, guess what, they do not "live here". I only go to sleep on buses because I know there will be a check conducted. It also represents my complete trust of the driver with my life and my life in my dozing state, and will not happen with drivers that do not keep that trust with me.

I'll begin the train crossing tomorrow, but quite possibly you may not want to have me start. *takes gavel and bashes it on train-crossing-blowers heads*...try to explain your desire to not stop at a crossing to me after I have seen the train coming straight down the tracks at a school bus that had a driver on it that made a bad choice. I will personally take you to that track and if it takes me twenty years to explain it to you I will that you do not [censored] do that at a train crossing!

Countgirl

Give me a yellow object. Yes. Right now. I need my yellow chocolate, for goodness sake!
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JC Theriault
Top Member

Canada
1326 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2004 :  09:04:38 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
While the purple bus may not require the driver to hold a school bus endorsement on his license its operation has to be governed by some state agency (ie. whoever looks after commercial trucks and motorcoaches).

One thing that may be applicable here is WHO bought the bus. How was the money raised - school budget? or parents association holding bake sales?

Find this out and approach the owners of the bus and/or a governing agency with your concerns.

As for railway crossings... in my province even taxicabs and fuel trucks are supposed to stop at crossings but it never happens and no one gets a ticket. Now the rumour mill says an ammendment to the bus regulations might be coming forth that would allow EMPTY buses to keep rolling over tracks that are equipped with lights and barriers. I'm supporting this change 100%, especially where stopping makes your bus a hazard around other traffic. Major intersections at rush hour are a good example.

Charter buses, school buses and motorcoaches are already exempted from stopping, even when loaded, at certain RR crossings along the 4-lane highways as the crossings are used maybe once or twice a month for shunting cars in the industrial parks and require a railway employee to be at the crossing when the train is approaching and the lights are flashing. Most times these crossings are used after midnite to prevent traffic disruptions.

JC
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FirstStudentKid
Senior Member

USA
126 Posts

Posted - 06/10/2004 :  2:57:23 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks to everyone for their responses. After the school's skepticism, I was unsure about the accuracy of First Student's pro-safety statements. About 50% of the students went on the field trip and the others (including myself) stayed at the school.

I think that the reason that the school is so ignorant about safe busing is their lack of experience. For over 10 years they have outsourced busing. Recently they suddenly decided to purchase their own school bus because they didn't like First Student's prices or driving. No one on their staff has any experience with school busing. When I mentioned the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Regulations Handbook to them, they told me that it does not exist or apply to their situation. They also claimed to have never heard of the NHTSA or NTSB. They even refuted the applicability of the Illinois School Bus Code due to their bus's color.

Some people have mentioned that I should complain about their safety policy. Aside from boycotting their field trip, I think that it would not be possible to convince them of their safety problem. They demand statistics and clearly shown proof for any type of safety request. Also, the school board already approved their current policies. (No one on the board has any experience at school busing.) Who would be higher up from the school board and administrators who would have the authority to tell them to improve their safety procedures?

BTW: In my state, passenger cars are not required to stop at railroad crossings. Only school buses and hazardous waste vehicles must stop along with some semi-trucks.
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SOS
Advanced Member

USA
253 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2004 :  04:12:28 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
FirstSTtudentKid,
The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Regulations will supersede any and all state or local laws, rules, or ordinance. It most certainly does apply to school buses in the same manner it does any other Commercial Vehicle. It controls all Commercial Vehicles that are operated upon public roadways, regardless of their use. I am not surprised to hear that your school is not knowledgeable about the regulations.
Two weeks ago I renewed my CDL. While waiting in line I spoke to a couple of drivers getting their CDL's for the first time. The conversation turned to people driving U-haul type vehicles or motor homes, pulling a car, boat, or camp trailer and the opinion of them needing a CDL, or at least extended training in doing so. I happened to mention that the bulk of people driving 15+ passenger vans were not aware that they needed a CDL to legally operate these vehicles. One of the fellows informed me that "unless they are hauling more than six people they didn't need a CDL and that he had done so for years". You might imagine his dismay when I showed him, (from his own CDL manual no less, yes the one he had been studying from and was supposedly ready to take the test for a class A license), that the condition is based on the vehicle design regardless of how many passengers are or are not in the vehicle. No doubt that if he could over look this information with it printed right before his eyes, your school personnel most likely has never heard of such regulations. Nor have they taken the time to research the matter.
Your local school board needs to take a crash course concerning the use of Commercial Vehicles and Pupil Transportation, quick, fast, and in a hurry. The liability when, (you notice that is when not if), something bad happens will be a rude awakening for them.
You may want to consider contacting your states Director of Pupil Transportation. He/she may be interested in what your school is trying to do, which in my opinion is not looking after the safety of their students. Your state School Board may also show an interest, in that safety protocol is being ignored.
Otherwise you, and the others that declined transportation on the purple bus, made a wise and safe choice that may be your only recourse. I am appalled that your school takes such a nonchalant attitude towards the safety of their students.

You gotta Love em' to Carry em'

Edited by - SOS on 06/11/2004 04:16:44 AM
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rswboe
Top Member

USA
675 Posts

Posted - 06/17/2004 :  10:23:52 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I noticed the state in which you reside, they are among the toughest in reguard to bus regs. We use Illinois style pre-trip books here because they are more in-depth than NJ requires. Your district is breaking more laws that you can shake a stick at here. If someone gets injured, believe me, ignorance is NO excuse. Someone needs to pick up a copy of the Federal Department of Transportation Motor Vehilce Regulations (nice book, about 2" thick) and do a little light reading. It may save you from a criminal posecution.

Live each like it's going to be your last, one day you'll be right!
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Mitchell
Top Member

Canada
741 Posts

Posted - 06/17/2004 :  2:52:24 PM  Show Profile  Send Mitchell a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
Jeez! It seems like nowadays people can get away with anything!
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rswboe
Top Member

USA
675 Posts

Posted - 06/24/2004 :  09:49:48 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Yup, everything's legal, till you get caught, that is...

Live each like it's going to be your last, one day you'll be right!
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FirstStudentKid
Senior Member

USA
126 Posts

Posted - 06/24/2004 :  4:27:10 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by rswboe

I noticed the state in which you reside, they are among the toughest in reguard to bus regs. We use Illinois style pre-trip books here because they are more in-depth than NJ requires. Your district is breaking more laws that you can shake a stick at here. If someone gets injured, believe me, ignorance is NO excuse. Someone needs to pick up a copy of the Federal Department of Transportation Motor Vehilce Regulations (nice book, about 2" thick) and do a little light reading. It may save you from a criminal posecution.



I wish I knew where to find that "book" so I could give a copy or link to this school. I also don't think that the students would be subject to criminal prosecution, the school is more likely to have that problem.

I would also be interested in getting a list of the actual laws that are being broken with references. The school thinks that I am not credible because I have no proof that any of my statements are true. They want to see in writing from a credible source (not SBF) that the law says this is required.

On another note, the school's website (mchs.grundy.k12.il.us) used to have a very good webpage listing the purple bus's policies along with pictures. Some students argue about whether it is really a bus or actually a non-conforming van.

Since school is out, should I just let this go or start an e-mail correspondence with the Superintendent who is in charge of bus related activities? If I do start a correspondance, should I reference this post in school bus fleet?

Sometimes the school denies everything and then sues or punishes everyone who complains for committing "libel and deframation of character." The post at this website may fall under that category and cause myself and others to get in trouble. (For the record, there are only a few slight errors in my posts: only 2 students refused to ride the purple bus; not 50% as stated earlier).
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SOS
Advanced Member

USA
253 Posts

Posted - 06/25/2004 :  04:20:08 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
FSK,

FMCSR handbook, can be purchased through J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc. 3003 W Breezewood Lane, PO Box 368 Neenah, Wisconsin 54957-0368 USA (800) 558-5011. (NO I am not an agent for Keller just happen to have the information handy.) Suggest to your district, Superintendent, that they purchase one and read it.

1. The lack of check for sleeping children after running their field trips.
A no brainer. Common sense should regulate this one. Still looking for the reference number concerning post trips on CMV.

2. The non-usage of headlights when operating the school bus.
No federal regulation concerning this. Most states have that covered. Federal rule is all state and local laws must meet or exceed federal standards. My state law, Georgia, requires that all school buses use head lamps when transporting students or when raining.

3. The lack of bus driver experience and certification. The teacher drives the bus. Usually the teacher driving the bus will have a CDL, but not necessarily a school bus permit.
Subpart F - Vehicle Groups and Endorsements 383.91 Gives a complete and accurate description of each CMV requiring a CDL. It even has a pictorial. 383.93 describes the endorsements needed for each category.

4. Their purple bus lacked compartmentalization, but instead included seat belts.
I could not find any regulations concerning this issue. Other than the belt requirements found in 393.93 that is for driver only. Driver being required to use his/her seat belt at all times the vehicle is in operation found at Subpart B 392.16.

5. Their bus does not run a pre-trip inspection prior to driving the field trip.
396.13 Clearly explains the requirement for a pre-trip inspection.

6. A First Student story exists about the purchase of the purple bus. Supposedly, First Student had a charter route scheduled to leave at 4 PM to arrive at 5 PM for a football game. The bus arrived at the school for 3:50 PM and no-one was waiting for them. The driver waited until 4:40 PM when the team came out. The coach told her that he expected the bus driver to drive at 80-100 mph to get the team to their 5 PM game. The driver refused and drove safely and they arrived at 5:40 PM (1-hour trip duration). As they were arriving late, the coach told the driver that it would be the last time they would use First Student for charter and they would buy a bus to transport themselves. Personally, I think that the story is a little exagerated, but some of it is probably true. The school board never approved or authorized the purple bus purchase and the vehicle suddenly appeared only a few weeks after this incident.
Part 392.6 Clearly explains the scheduling of CMVs to adhere to all speed prescribed by the jurisdiction it is traveling through.

7. Many First Student passengers observed the vehicle drive through a railroad crossing without stopping to look for a train.
OMG. See 392.10. Read any local CDL manual. Use half a brain. This is ****.
This applies to ANY vehicle "designed" to carry 15 or more passengers plus the driver, (that makes it a CMV). Any CMV with passengers on board is required to stop, look, and listen, before crossing a RR grade.

FSK I hope this helped you. You might also consider picking up a CDL manual at your local driver license post or state patrol office whichever has them. These are free of charge, at least in Georgia. This manual would also serve as good reading for your district if they don't want to invest in the FMCSR handbook.

Goodluck.

You gotta Love em' to Carry em'
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rswboe
Top Member

USA
675 Posts

Posted - 06/25/2004 :  09:46:47 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
You can also try your local library, check the referrence section. You can also contact your state Department of Education or whichever agency regulates school buses. Quite often the state codes are far more restrictive than the Federal. In NJ any school or for hire vehicle whic transports to or from ANY school related activity must be a yellow, conforming vehicle. This applies to contractors, churches, boys & girls clubs etc...Maybe a call to your State Police could be in order.

Live each like it's going to be your last, one day you'll be right!
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