Training Programs Help Prep Drivers for Safe Service

Thomas McMahon
Posted on July 12, 2017

Pre-trip inspections, defensive driving, and behavior management are among the vital topics covered in these video and online training offerings for school transportation staff.

Course covers key driver topics
School Bus Safety Co. recreated and expanded its Driver Training Course in 2015. The new edition provides 25 programs (up from 15), an extensive final exam, and longer video running time (now eight hours and 54 minutes). The course covers such topics as safety best practices, defensive driving, pre- and posttrip inspections, the danger zone, and behavior management. “More than 3,000 school districts and six of the 10 largest contractors use this training course,” President Jeff Cassell says. “These programs are proven to change driver behaviors to avoid unsafe acts.” The company also offers programs on special needs, bullying, and CDL preparation.
School Bus Safety Co.

Driver demos pre-trip inspection
Former Indiana school bus driver Greg Beaverson produced a pair of videos that demonstrate the steps for a pre-trip inspection. “School Bus CDL Pre-Trip Inspection” is available in two DVD versions: one covering transit-style (Type D) school buses, and the other covering conventional (Type C) models. In each video, Beaverson conducts a full pre-trip inspection, beginning with the outside of the bus and then moving to the inside. The process is broken down into mini-chapters that can be selected from the DVD menu, each focusing on a specific area of the bus.
JCLi Studios

In-service, certifications offered online
School Training Solutions, which is a division of Smart Horizons, provides online programs to meet state-mandated in-service training requirements and professional development needs for school district employees. For school bus drivers specifically, the company’s offerings include general preparation and refresher training, in-service training, defensive driving instruction, and National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) certification courses — all of which are online. According to Patrick Willi, director of School Training Solutions, the most popular products are the in-service training and the NAPT certification courses. The company’s learning management system provides progress tracking, reporting, completion certificates, and continuing education units.
School Training Solutions

Online training, tracking tools
SafePupil offers an assortment of online training tools for school transportation. Two types of subscriptions are available: SafePupil Club and SafePupil Prime. Both provide access to more than 350 school bus driver training videos as well as webinars. The videos, which range in length from three to 10 minutes, can be used for in-service training, safety meetings, remedial training, and new driver orientation. Beyond the video and webinar access, the SafePupil Prime subscription adds customization options for the content and the online training area, tools for tracking and documenting training, and the ability to centralize communication and paperwork.

Thwarting unauthorized boarding
Unauthorized boarding attempts is the subject of a video produced by the Minnesota School Bus Operators Association (MSBOA) with law enforcement officials. Shelly Jonas, executive administrator for MSBOA, says that the “Unauthorized Rider” video demonstrates the need to plan ahead for this type of situation. Concepts covered include speaking to an unauthorized person from behind a closed door or an open window; using clear, concise directions to get the person to listen; and communicating with dispatch. MSBOA has also developed an instructor’s guide to accompany the DVD. Another training video from the association focuses on school bus inspections.
Minnesota School Bus Operators Association

Terrorism awareness with TSA
First Observer Plus prepares school bus drivers and other transportation professionals to observe, assess, and report suspicious activity. The 45-minute video is the latest version of the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA’s) long-running program that was previously known as Highway Watch. First Observer Plus, which includes a segment specific to school transportation, gives participants an overview of the nation’s transportation infrastructure and details on terrorism, including types of weapons that terrorists use and tactics that they employ. The video emphasizes the importance of assessing situations that DLR — “don’t look right” — and determining whether to report them to 911 or TSA. Participants can register to receive a certificate of completion.
Transportation Security Administration

Prepping for problem behavior, crises
CPI provides training programs to help school bus drivers deal with difficult situations on the bus, such as challenging student behavior. Video programs include “Preventing Problem Behavior on Your School Bus” and “Trouble On Board: Managing Crisis Situations on Your School Bus.” CPI also offers emergency and security training videos by Safe Havens International, including “School Transportation Security and Emergency Preparedness” and “The First 30 Seconds: Pupil Transportation Crisis Scenarios.” Randy Boardman, CPI’s senior training advisor, says that the company also trains school bus drivers and other staff in workshops and seminars on nonviolent crisis intervention.

Training for rail-crossing safety
Operation Lifesaver’s “Decide Smart, Arrive Safe” video was created to help school bus drivers prevent rail-crossing accidents. The 18-minute training tool covers several historical bustrain crashes, including one in Conasauga, Tennessee, in 2000 and another in Fox River Grove, Illinois, in 1995. In each case, the video provides tips to avoid similar incidents. The program also covers the “Five Alive” drill, which teaches school bus drivers five key safety steps to follow at train tracks. The video can be downloaded for free or purchased as a DVD on the Operation Lifesaver website. The organization also offers a free e-learning program at
Operation Lifesaver

Driver training topics on demand
J.J. Keller & Associates offers school bus driver training programs that are available for purchase at Topics include mirror usage, passenger safety, school bus inspection, hazard perception, city driving, safety and defensive driving techniques, emergency maneuvers, and accident procedures. The pay-perview option gives users 72-hour access to individual videos via the internet.
J.J. Keller & Associates

Thomas McMahon Executive Editor
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