Tag Archives: School Bus

Top 5 School Bus Accident Causes

School buses are treated with respect and consideration everywhere.

This respect is owed to the children who are the passengers of these buses.

Despite the traffic regulations and precautions are taken, the school buses sometimes met with accidents.

The rate of accidents is fairly low as compared to other traffic accidents.

But when it happens, normally it points towards the fault of driver and vehicle. 

Here are 5 causes of school bus accidents.

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1. Driver Distraction 

The main distraction for the driver occurs within the bus.

The misbehavior of students on the bus can take away the driver’s attention from the road.

Students tend to be very loud and noisy.

At times, they fight and assault each other.

These types of student behaviours distracts driver while driving which might lead to accidents.

Availability of an attendant or teacher on the bus to discipline the students can help driver to a large extent.

Mobile phones are another major distraction.

Though talking on the phone while driving is a punishable offence, many drivers still use their phones.

A call may divert a driver’s attention from the road which can lead to an accident.  

But if any emergency call such as call from school authorities or parents, then it would be appropriate to use the phone after the vehicle is parked aside safely.

Drivers are often seen adjusting their viewing mirrors, adjusting their seating position, etc., while on the road.

These should have been well looked into before starting the trip.

They reach out for fallen objects; even eat, drink and smoke while driving, all of which can distract their mind.

One another factor that affects driver concentration is the loud audio/video music played inside the buses.

In school buses, it is not advisable to use music systems.

Factors of distraction outside the vehicle include the disorganized traffic in urban areas, the lack of space to manoeuvre the big vehicle, lack of proper pedestrian crossings, construction sites, accidents on the route, etc.

All these divert the attention of the driver from his task of driving safely.  

Bad weather conditions like heavy rain, snow or sleet also make driving difficult, especially when it is required to stop quickly and safely.

2. Driver Fatigue 

Driver fatigue automatically results in negligence causing accidents, sometimes tragic.

It is not really possible to monitor whether a driver  had a restful sleep or gauge his state of alertness or awareness.

There exist devices to measure a driver’s eye closure rate.

The device triggers an alarm when it observes an unfamiliar pattern.

The prohibitive cost and scarce availability of such devices make it an impractical solution.

A tired driver is incapable of checking blind spots.

He fails to observe the rules of the road.

The bad road conditions too can affect his driving.

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Getting around potholes and construction sites on his daily pickup route can be mentally exasperating.

Fatigue is also caused when the driver is under the influence of illegal substances, alcohol and even prescribed drugs.

Small quantities of each reduce the level of concentration in a person thus decreasing the reaction times.

Larger quantities often result in blurred vision too.

This impairs proper vehicle operation.

The main onus of being vigilant rests on the bus driver as he is solely responsible for the safety of the students on his bus

3. Over Speeding

Over-speeding, as we all know, can cause disasters.

A school bus driver operates on a time constraint.

Delay in picking up students and traffic snarls causes the driver to speed and keep up the time schedule.

The driver’s power of judgment gets impaired at high speeds making accidents inevitable.

School buses, these days, are fitted with speed governors which limit fuel when the vehicle reaches a predetermined speed level.

This is highly essential as it is a deterrent to over-speeding and aggressive driving. 

Many cases of reckless driving and road rage end up with disastrous results.

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Aggressive driving can be curtailed by imparting adequate training to drivers inculcating in them the necessity for safety and instilling a sense of responsibility.

It would be wise to employ drivers in their middle age with more years of experience and maturity which might often be missing in young fresh drivers. 

Accidents due to animals and pedestrians crossing roads can be avoided if the buses travel within a safe speed limit.

4. Condition of the Vehicle

It is imperative that the school buses are in perfect running condition at all times.

Regular maintenance is essential to ensure safe day-to-day operations.

More so because the schools resort to buy second-hand or used buses as they find it more economically viable.

Ageing of buses and faulty equipment are a cause for concern.

Lapses in maintenance often lead to the breakdown of the vehicle.

Commonly accidents are caused because of faulty brake systems or worn out treads on tires.

Ignoring defects and repairing with used/second-hand parts increases the risk of failures.

Hence it is essential to do a daily routine check of brakes, accelerator, oil pressure, tire pressure, lights, and all other factors to ensure the vehicle’s roadworthiness.

In addition to these, the latch systems for the windows and door have to be checked for proper and smooth operation.

Emergency exits have to be easily accessible.

5. Passenger Over-Crowding

Over-crowding in school buses is very common.

School authorities try to optimize their bus routes to save time and fuel.

The passengers in a bus should not be according to the seating capacity of the particular bus.

Overloading affects the stability of the vehicle.

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The adherence to safety regulations becomes impossible with a large number of students on board.

For example, the number of seat belts provided will be not sufficient in an overcrowded bus.

Students standing in the bus hamper the view of the driver.

If the driver applies the brake suddenly, the children are thrown against each other causing injuries.

An overcrowded bus with no safety precautions is a strain on the driver.

In addition to these, one of the common causes of accidents is other careless drivers on the road.

The school bus driver can keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead and travel at speeds that would cause minimum damage if any accident occurs.

In short, the driver should ensure that he/she drives defensively and mindfully rather than mindlessly.

In spite of all these aspects, school buses are still considered to be the safest means of transportation for a student to and from school.  

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15 Duties and Responsibilities of School Transport Manager

The school transport manager primarily oversees the fleet of buses that transport the students to and from the school.

The manager plays a crucial role in the overall planning and management of the bus routes, scheduling, vehicle maintenance and acquisition and much more. 

This position requires the candidate to have the capability to organize, possess leadership skills, and maintain good relationships with others.

In total, the transport manager along with assistants have to ensure safe, effective, responsive and efficient transport service to the staff and the students.

We shall, in this article, discuss the duties and responsibilities to be taken on by the transport manager of a school bus fleet. 

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Duties and Responsibilities of the Transport Manager

1. The transport manager is responsible for the transportation of school and sees that the day-to-day operations are going on without any problems.

For this, the transport manager has to monitor the operations and assure efficient performance in compliance with the regulations and according to the policies, guideline and procedures that are laid down.

2. The transport manager is expected to resolve all the challenges arises in the transport department.

They are supposed to handle different aspects of bus maintenance issues and emergencies if any. 

3. In addition to performing road checks during inclement weather, the transport manager holds the complete responsibility of overseeing the timely maintenance checks of all the buses.

The manager is also responsible for maintaining complete records of all the maintenance that have taken place on every bus.

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The manager facilitates staff meetings in this connection and also provides direction to the bus maintenance staff. 

The transport manager is in charge of inspecting the buses frequently to ensure that all the buses are in tip-top condition and safe enough to transport the students to and from the school. 

4. The transport manager is in charge of setting the routes for the buses, dispatch of the buses, working out their schedule, and managing the driver.

They are also incharge of managing other members of the transport department such as staff representatives from the school, manage fuel consumption of the buses, and also development of the bus timetable.

All these are done keeping in mind the child safety that is being transported on the bus. 

5. The transport manager shall coordinate with the specific district representative for the transportation of student with special needs.

He is also responsible to prepare and submit all the related reports in a timely manner. 

6. The transport manager is responsible for the purchase of any equipment for the school bus fleet in compliance with all the existing policies and procedures.

7. The transport manager is responsible for the conduct and behaviour of the bus drivers and attendants.

In this connection, he is responsible for the recruitment of the said personnel.

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So, He must be very careful while appointing candidates for the positions of driver and bus attendants.

He should only appoint them after screening their applications thoroughly and checking their credentials and backgrounds.

The transport manager is in charge of training programs and safety programs for the bus staff.

He conducts the bus driver performance evaluations in a timely manner.

He trains the staff on how to communicate effectively so that they can voice their concerns and opinions appropriately.

He is in charge of developing and maintaining the training manual with all the records complete.

He must also ensure that they are promoted to higher positions at the right times and that they are compensated according to their position.

He is in charge of tackling any unrest that may arise in the department. 

8. The transport manager maintains a positive relationship with parents, students and the staff members of the school.

He coordinates and strives to resolve all the concerns that crop up.  

The responsibilities of the transport manager include keeping the parents informed of any route change, schedule change or timing change of the bus trip.

He should also keep them informed in case there is a new person that has assumed the role of the driver or bus attendant.

9. The role of a transport manager becomes a prominent one in times of a crisis such as an accident or emergency (such as a breakdown).

In such a case his action should be immediate so that there is no harm (or only a minimal loss) and every child reaches their home safe and sound. 

The transport manager is expected to have the contact details of all the vehicles repair services of the area as well as those of doctors, nursing homes and hospitals.  

10. The transport manager is in charge of coordinating with all the transport staff and the government authorities to keep the bus feet in a ready state for the annual state inspection of the vehicle fleet. 

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11. The Transport manager shall plan and execute the purchase of spare buses as additions to the existing fleet.

This help in handling the situation when the necessity of school bus arises. 

12. The transport manager shall assist the school authorities in the development of operating procedures.

These include policies, upgrading the existing systems and their implementation and staffing changes at the departmental level.

13. The transport manager is expected to maintain safety standards in compliance with regulations for insurance requirements.

A preventative safety program has to be developed by the manager.

All insurance reports have to be completed and submitted to the authorities by the transport manager. 

14. The transport manager is responsible to conduct mock evacuation and emergency drills in a timely manner. 

15. It is the responsibility of the transport manager to submit a variety of reports in a timely fashion to the school authorities and government departments in compliance with policies and procedures.

All expenditures must be properly recorded allocated and accounted for.

Complaints and concerns should be recorded and all the related follow-up correspondence should be copied, saved and stored appropriately.

Conclusion

The transport manager is expected to be a person with a positive attitude with a professional approach in tackling the various issues of the transportation department.

Ultimately, the service to the children should be of paramount importance.

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10 Important Benefits of Propane Based School Buses

Propane is more widely available and is cheaper than both gasoline and diesel which makes it a preferred fuel for running school buses. Generically known as liquefied petroleum gas, propane is available even in rural areas.

The number of school districts that are using propane for their school bus fleets is on the rise. Propane-based school bus sale has increased by around 500% since the year 1912. As of last year, there are about 13000 propane-based school buses that ferry close to 800000 students to and from schools every day.

This naturally leads to the inference that school buses that use propane are seeing more advantages as compared to others. This article attempts to list 10 of the most obvious and important advantages as to why school bus fleets want to power their buses with this gas.

Here follows the 10 important advantages of propane based school buses which you must know.

1: Financial gains

The primary reason why many schools choose propane is for financial gains. The price of propane is low as compared to traditional gasoline or diesel and also reduces the operating costs. The school buses were able to save to the extent of $3000 per bus if it starts running on propane. The range of savings, however, depends on the price of the fuel.

Right away propane is costing just half as much as diesel from the pump station. In a majority of cases, the school sins a contract with the propane retailer for the fuel consumption of the entire fleet of buses and this makes the cost of propane even lower.

2: Lowered maintenance costs

With propane based school buses, it is possible to save maintenance cost This can be possible in several areas, one being less-frequent changes of the engine oil.

An oil change for propane takes up only 7 quarts of oil. However, for a diesel engine, the oil change requires about 17-36 quarts of oil.  The next reason is the installation of less complicated emission control systems which do not use the diesel exhaust fluid. The fuel burns in a clean manner and there is no requirement for add-on filters usually used by diesel engine systems.

3: Propane is a proven fuel alternative

Propane has been used in vehicles ever since the 1970s which makes the technology almost five decades old and proven. Many school districts started using propane from as early as the 1980s.

4: Quick returns on the investments are possible with propane

School districts that had purchased propane-based school bus fleets got back their initial investment in just about an 18- to 24-month period. This was because of reduced fuel expenditure and lowered maintenance costs.

Typically, the cost of propane has a value that is midway between the price of natural gas and oil. Schools also do well by negotiating a fixed propane price for the entire year with the local retailer.
SCHOOL-TRANSPORRT-APP

5: Propane is a non-toxic fuel and is non-spillable too

Propane has lots of good characteristics:

•    It does not contaminate the soil, air or water
•    It is not made up of harmful chemicals like diesel and gasoline
•    Propane is usually used in a closed-loop system as a result of which it does not spill
•    There are no major clean-up concerns for this fuel

6: The refuelling infrastructure is spread out and big enough

Many of the districts have multiple points from where the school bus fleet can refuel. Each fleet can have their own refuelling strategy. The individual buses from a fleet can be part of a refuelling network.

These networks can be used by those bus fleets that do not have a refuelling facility and infrastructure in their premises. Most of the refuelling stations function 24/7 for the convenience of the bus fleets.

7: The propane refuelling infrastructure is easy to create

For bus fleets of big sizes, it is worthwhile to consider installation of a propane refuelling facility if there is sufficient space in their premises. The infrastructure is affordable and is cheaper than installing stations for dispensing petrol or diesel.

If the refuelling station is outside the premises, a centralized location would be the best as it serves to reduce downtime of the buses. It is also a matter of convenience. Such refuelling centres can be up-scaled when the sizes of the fleets increase.

8: Propane engines operate in a cleaner fashion

As propane engines operate in a cleaner manner than diesel engines. This means that school running propane-based buses set do not have to buy an extra set of about 20 ancillary parts that are required to clean the unwanted emissions of diesel engines.

Without these parts, diesel engines would fail to meet environmental protection standards as far as emissions are concerned.

Propane-based buses emit fewer oxides of nitrogen and almost no particulate matter as compared to diesel.

9: Propane buses have no cold-start problems

Propane buses do not have cold-start issues with the result that the school saves a lot of time as well as money.

10: Drivers love propane-based buses

Drivers love propane based buses for the fact that they operate in a much quieter fashion, they accelerate quickly and are easier to handle, unlike diesel buses.

They do not have the exhaust fumes of diesel engines either. They are quick to start even in the dead of winter. Propane buses do not have to ’idle’ before it starts to move. At the end of it all, they are easier to clean and maintain.

Conclusion

A major cost for most schools is the transportation system. The rising fuel costs coupled with the fact that diesel engine mechanics are rare breed these days, most of the schools are settling for buses that use alternative fuels like propane instead of conventional fuels like diesel and gasoline.

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How to Install Car Seats In School Bus?

Drivers depend on car seats to keep babies safe. However, according to some experts, only 15% of the car seats are correctly installed guaranteeing the safety and protection of the child.

Before you start installing a car seat in the school bus, know the type of car seats you have. Is it a rear-facing car seat or a front-facing one? Next, take a look at its design to understand if it has to be fixed to the school bus’ seat belt, or the anchor belts attached to the car seat, or to both.

Let us look deeply onto it.

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Installing a Rear-Facing Car Seats in School Bus

Step 1: The carrier and the base are two different parts and must be separated. You need to install the base as this is what will remain in the car.

Go through the manufacturer’s instructions to understand how the carrier can be removed from the base. Generally, this is done with the help of a lever or button placed at the base.

Step 2: Check for the belts attached to the base. Some car seats have a belt with two hooks that can latch onto the designated spots near the seat belt area of your vehicle. If these are the kind of belts in your car seat, snap the hooks onto the metal bars of your school bus’ seat.

  • Make sure the base is resting right against the seat. Tighten the anchor belt in case of a gap.
  • Check the instructional manual to ensure that this is the way the base has to be fixed.
  • Some car seats have another belt that needs to go through the car seat to secure the base and provide additional security.

ALTERNATIVELY,

If the car seat which you are going to install does not have an anchor belt with hooks, it will have a buckle to securely put through the school bus’ belt opening. The seatbelt must go through straight without any twists or turns.

  • Check the manual thoroughly to understand where the belt has to be attached in case of doubt.
  • Every school bus and every car seat is different and, therefore, the manufacturer’s manual must be referred to.
  • A car seat that is not properly latched can be dangerous since the child is at the risk of getting injured.

Step 3: Fix the infant carrier onto the base. The direction of the carrier must be such that the child is facing the rear side. When the base and carrier are correctly fitted, you must hear a click sound. You can practice placing and separating the carrier a couple of times to know how it’s done.

Step 4: Check the angle of the base. Rear-facing car seats can be adjusted to different angles. Young infants need a more reclined position as it helps them to breathe properly.

  • Car seat carriers have level indicators to help you understand which is right for your child. Read the level and check if this is right as per your child’s weight/age/height.
  • Alter the base angle if you feel your child is not comfortable.
  • Always change the angle as your child grows.

Installation a Front Facing Car Seats in School Bus

Step 1: Take the seat belt through the car seat. Front facing car seats have openings at the back or bottom through which a seat belt needs to pass.

This seat belt must be buckled into the school bus’ seat on the other side. Once the belt has passed through and you’ve buckled it, push it down and pull to ensure that it has locked well. Check that the belt is straight and there are no twists or bundling.

Step 2: Some car seat designs include an attached tether. This can be taken over the top of the vehicle’s seat to latch on the anchor behind the seat. If your car seat and vehicle’s seat both support this locking, attach the tether to the anchor and tighten.

ALTERNATIVELY,

If the tether is not attached, you need to use latches to secure the car seat. Check the bottom of the car seat for two buckles with hooks.

These should latch onto the designated spots of the school bus seat where the back and bottom join. Tighten the belt in a manner that the back of the car seat is snug against the back of the vehicle’s seat and the base is snug to the base.

Safety Guidelines

Proper installation of the car seat in school bus is not enough to ensure the safety of the child while traveling. There are a few other factors that you must keep in mind to ensure that the child remains uninjured on the school bus journey. Here’s what you must check:

  1. Choose the right spot to fix the car seat. Child car seats should not be installed in the first few or last rows of the school bus. This is because these seats are unsafe and experience more jerks than the middle rows.
  2. The seat must fit well according to the dimensions of your vehicle’s seat. At any point in time, the base of the car seat must not move more than 1 inch.
    Pull and push your car seat in different directions after installation to check this movement and in case the car seat is moving a lot, do not place the child in it. Tighten the belts to first fix the car seat correctly.
  3. Use the shoulder straps and lap harness to buckle the child into the seat. The child must not be left loosely in the seat. The chest clip must also be buckled properly.
    Tighten all the belts to make sure that your child is safe and comfortable as well. Please ensure that none of the straps are twisted or bundled.

Keep the instructions manual handy to be sure that you have done everything correctly. Student safety in the car seat is in your hands and you must double check everything.

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15 Tips to Fix Your Child’s Long School Bus Rides

While many parents may not have realized this, it is a true fact that a child’s school day starts with the ride on the bus.

However, very long bus rides for the children (say for two hours one way) are seen to detrimentally affect the child’s health and contribute to absent school days and even increase drop-out rates.

The effects are more intense for those children who require special education. Are these long bus rides not able to meet your child’s needs? Have you been mulling on the idea to fix these rides?

Currently, there are no definitions for lengths of the rides even for students with disabilities. If you want to fix the length of the bus ride for your child, you may have to explore and find out aspects with which you can establish that these rides are inappropriate. We give you a few tips that you can start exploring with and later build upon.

  1. It is important to understand that according to the IEP document, transportation comes under the banner of related services.

    Therefore, the first and foremost tip is that any concern in this direction should be approached in the same manner as you would do for other related services.

  2. The next important thing to be done is to ask your child what he/she feels about the ride. Whereas some children find the ride cumbersome and exhausting, others seem to enjoy the bus ride.

    It is good to get some clarity about the extent of the problem right here. Even if the child seems to be happy about the ride, it does not mean that you cannot strive to make it better.

  3. IDEA does not define the ride length. Therefore, go through the state registers to find out whether the length of the school bus ride has been defined.

    You may find this in some of the states and would not find this in others. It is a good idea to go through the transportation policy of the school district.

  4. For a large majority of children, riding the bus for long hours can cause severe anxiety. In school-going children, sitting for long hours is difficult. This is a valid point that can be brought up.
  5. It pays for you to know that if the transportation has been provided by the school, it is essentially a part of education that is covered by the IEP. All the queries and concerns can then be addressed to the school.
  6. As transportation is a related service according to IEP, if you feel the bus driver needs to be trained, that can be put in the IEP.
  7. The bus ride is largely chaotic and most of the times, the rides are not supervised to the extent they should be. If your child faces problems such as bullying because of little or no supervision, you can state that as a concern.
  8. In case any change seems impossible, what about the following solutions:

•    Can the child be allowed to eat (whenever the child feels like) on the bus?
•    Would there be a Wi-Fi hotspot so that the child can do their homework on the bus?
•    Can tutoring take place inside the bus?

  1. Make a list of the point which you are not willing to negotiate with: bullying by kids, medications on time, hunger pangs, Type I diabetes, epileptic seizures, etc. These would make your case stronger against long bus rides.
  2. Document all your findings. Add bus incidents to make your point.
  3. Just as how adults do not perform well at work after a bad commute, much the same happens with the children after a long bus ride.

    You can make a point when you prove that every day the child is recuperating after an hour’s drive to school and recuperating at home after the one-hour ride back.

  4. Even a roadblock in the IEP process means there is a solution to the problem and you can come around it if you make an effort.
  5. It is a good idea to motivate other community members to take the bus when possible instead of driving their children to school. 
  6. In the case where the district administration does not provide transportation for any child, then you will have to argue the case based on the fact that this is a related service that would help your child to access the provisions of Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
  7. An argument can be made with the fact that LRE (Least Restrictive Environment) does not imply only the classroom placement but also the long bus ride.

    IDEA states that children that receive special education should do their learning in the least restrictive environment.

Conclusion

If your child spends too long on the school bus on a daily basis, then it is upon out to bring it to the IEP team’s attention without any delay.

It will also do well for you to contact an attorney that specializes in special education who can help to examine your case and determine whether your child is being denied FAPE.

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Common Guidelines for the Location and Design of School Bus Stops

Millions of school children travel to and from schools on a daily basis in school buses during a school year. The safety of students is a matter of high concern for both school authorities and parents.

This post provides some information on the common guidelines related to the location and design of stops for buses run by various schools.

Guidelines for Deciding the Location of School Bus Stops

The first step is definitely deciding the routes for the school bus. Once the routes have been finalized, the next step is to decide the location of each school bus stop along these routes, taking into consideration the various aspects that have been listed below:

  • Special guidelines required for  kindergarten  children like picking them up from their door-steps
  • Choosing the location of school bus stops on the key arterial roads of the city or town
  • Transportation in danger zones marked as "no transport zone"
  • Locating stops in dead-end streets
  • Locating stops at places midway between residential blocks or at corners
  • Closeness to railroad crossings
  • Adequate visibility

There is an intimate link between school bus routes and stops. This is because the characteristics of one impact the other.

For example, a route may have a busy road segment and a stop may have to be necessarily located in this segment. Students waiting at bus stop will definitely have to deal with the heavy traffic on the segment.

Keeping in mind the street-side things like the condition of the road from where the students board and alight school bus and ensuring a safe environment for children, consider the following aspects whenever possible.

  • Route school buses through roads with lower traffic speeds and volumes
  • Avoid roads with multiple lanes where the risk of injury for pedestrians is very high
  • Select roads that have sidewalks/designated pedestrian walkways which are different from the roadway/traffic; if this is not possible select roads with adequate space so that children can walk along the roadway and reach the stop
  • Avoid/limit the stops that necessitate the school buses to make a left/right turn along the route depending on whether right hand or left-hand driving is practiced
  • Avoid stops that necessitate backing up; if backing up cannot be avoided, make sure that the students are picked up before backing and during the return trip the children should be dropped off only after backing up so that the bus can be driven in the forward direction
  • Avoid railroad crossings as much as possible; if it is not possible to do that ensure the presence of signage and crossing arm protection
  • Select stops that have a high level of visibility for both drivers and pedestrians; the sight distance should be sufficient for both the students waiting at the stop and bus drivers

When it comes to the sight distance, some of the factors that have an impact are:

  • Sunrise/sunset times – It is better to avoid locating stops in such a way that the buses are forced to face into the sun at pick-up/drop-off times
  • Curves
  • Trees and vegetation

Guidelines for Designing School Bus Stops

When designing school bus stops some of the key aspects to be kept in mind are as follows:

  • Opt for the safest areas where students can wait for and get into and off of the school bus
  • Choose “near-side” stops as much as possible
  • Design should minimize the need for crossing the road to board or after alighting from the bus; as much as possible the need to cross multi-lane roads must be minimized
  • Ensure adequate lighting is available; if children have to wait during hours when the light is low, the school bus stop must be close to a street light/ other light sources as much as possible
  • Ensure adequate waiting space for both students and parents; the waiting place must be at least 12 feet away from the bus but the bus class and sight distance should be kept in mind
  • Consider the environment around the school bus stop; parks and commercial businesses both have their own benefits and drawbacks; they may confer safety as drivers might expect the presence of pedestrians in the areas but they can distract children
  • Design school bus stops in such a way that the children remain protected from vagaries of nature weather

On the basis of the geographical region, some of the aspects to be kept in mind are:

  • Design stops in such a way that shade is available without sacrificing visibility
  • Avoid areas that will reduce the visibility/access because of changes in weather conditions
  • Avoid snow drift areas that reduce the visibility of the bus or access to the school bus
  • Take into consideration the number of children that have to be picked up from a school bus stop; the presence of many students might confer safety, but it can increase the chances of behavioural problems

The common guidelines outlined in this post are focused on preventing traffic-related injuries to students using the school bus to travel to and from their schools. Students, just like all other community members, face risks of assault and other crimes.

Many of the other non-traffic issues addressed by transportation policies such as proximity to bars, liquor stores, and adult entertainment, among others are not dealt with in this post.

However, following the guidelines when designing and locating school bus stops can greatly improve the safety and security of school children.

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How to Avoid School Bus Accidents

The statistics are unnerving: with over 25 million children travelling to school by the school bus every single day, there are many deaths that occur due to school bus accidents.

In all of these, it has been estimated that over 10% of all the deaths were school children, drivers and passengers. These are more than enough to make us learn ways using which we can avoid school bus accidents and keep our children safe.

A school bus accident is one that involves a school bus vehicle body or the body of any other bus functioning as a school bus. Almost every parent agrees to the fact that transportation of children to and from the school is safer in the school bus than in a car. However, it is up to every school driver to bear in mind that the school bus shares the road with other types of vehicles.

In this article, we have gleaned some precious tips that will help to prevent school bus accidents.

When the school bus is carrying the children, follow these tips:

•    When there are children in the school bus, always maintain  distance from the moving vehicle in the front. The driver should be left with plenty of time when the brake lights of the vehicle on the front start to flash. Flashing yellow lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop. This gives an opportunity for the drivers behind to slow down.

•    If the yellow or red lights of a school bus carrying children start to flash, and when the driver extends the stop arm, all the traffic behind must come to a stop.

•    In case you are on a road that is not divided, do not pass a bus, from either direction, which has stopped to load or unload children.

•    It is a good idea for every driver near a school bus to be extra alert as one cannot predict the behaviour of children. Drivers of all vehicles near schools should be aware of the lowered speed limits.

There have been many cases where children lost their lives in bus-related accidents when walking on the roads.  Majority of these children are very young, between 4 and 7 years of age. Many a time, they are hit by motorists that are illegally passing a school bus that has stopped to pick up or drop off the students. Otherwise, they are hit by the bus.

Given below are some precautions that will help to keep the children safe.

•    Ensure that your vehicle does not block the crosswalk. This forces children to move around your vehicle when they want to cross the road. This could put them in the midst of moving traffic.

•    When your vehicle is in the ‘school zone’, and flashers are blinking, check all cars nearby are stopped and allow pedestrians to cross the roads.

•    Always make sure that you stop the vehicle whenever a traffic policeman or a school patrol guard holds up a ‘Stop’ sign.

•    Look out for children whenever your vehicle crosses playgrounds and parks or school areas.

Rules for School Bus Students

Some of the rules that we have seen are for the vehicle drivers and school children who are walking. There are also some rules that should be followed by the students on the bus to minimize school bus accidents.

•    Board and alight from the bus in an orderly fashion.

•    Be seated when the bus is moving.

•    Keep head, arms and legs inside the bus throughout the journey at all times.

•    Ensure that you are seated with your feet placed on the floor and facing forward.

•    Keep the aisle area free.

•    Do not distract the bus driver at any cost.

•    Make use of the handrail while boarding and de-boarding the bus.

•    Maintain a minimum distance while waiting for the bus at bus stop.

•    Enter the bus only after it has completely halted to a stop.

•    After alighting from the bus, walk for a distance of at least 10 feet before attempting to cross the road.

•    No student should cross the road from behind the bus.

•    You should cross the road only after receiving driver’s signal.

•    You should be educated about the safety of the school bus.

These rules are to be followed when new school bus drivers are appointed.

•    The school bus driver should be in possession of a commercial driver’s license. He should have an accident-free clean personal driving record. He should also come out free of a drug screening procedure.

•    The driver should be a friendly person and capable of maintaining good communication.

•    School bus drivers are expected to eat healthy, take time off when sick and get enough rest on a daily basis. They should completely understand the bad effects of sleep deprivation.

School Bus Maintenance

•    As far as the school bus is concerned, the upkeep and safety of the vehicle are paramount. It is utmost important to stick to the rules as far as maintenance schedules are concerned.

•    Drivers should inspect the buses on a daily basis and the vehicle should receive mechanical maintenance.

•    The bus should undergo a preventative check-up before a long-distance trip.

Bus Routes

Bus routes should be planned in such a way that they travel through roads that have lower speed limits and have a lot of pedestrian space. Streets that are overcrowded or those that have poor visibility should be avoided.

Construction of the School Bus

•    Ensure that the bus has safe handrails.

•    The schools should not use non-conforming vans to transport children to and from schools.

•    The bus should not be too noisy such that it is a distraction for the driver.  There should be no speaker placed adjacent to the driver’s heads.

Conclusion

The driver, helpers, and the public at large should be watchful and vigilant at all times. There is no room for any complacency whatsoever. Only this can help to control school bus accidents.

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How Safe Is Your School Bus ?

How safe is your school bus is a question that comes to everybody’s mind at the start of each school year. This can be attributed to the several high-profile school bus accidents that have taken place in the past.

According to safety administration authority, the safest way of transporting children to and from the school is the school bus. In fact, a school bus is considered to be seven times safer compared to traveling either by car or van.

Bus Safety

Time and again people have raised the issue that school buses are not provided with seat belts to ensure the safety of children. On the other hand, seat belts have been compulsory for passenger cars ever since 1968. However, experts in the filed opine that they are not required on school buses.

According to them, seat belts have a key role to play in ensuring the safety of passengers in cars, but the design of school buses is different and a unique kind of a restraint system on buses works extremely well.

On the other hand, the small school buses are to be equipped with lap and/or lap plus shoulder belts at all of the specified seating positions.

This is because the weights and sizes of smaller school buses and vans are closer to that of passenger cars and mini trucks, it is essential to provide seat belts to ensure the safety of the occupants.

In addition, the chances of students getting to school safely are nearly 70 times higher when they take a school bus instead of commuting by car.

This is because school buses have to comply with a lot of regulatory stipulations compared to other vehicles that ply on the roads. Moreover, they are designed to provide a higher level of safety than other passenger vehicles and prevent crashes and injuries. Further, the stop-arm laws protect students from other motorists.

Another aspect is that school buses are designed in such a way that they ensure high levels of visibility. Other safety aspects include flashing red lights, protective seating, rollover protection, high crush standards, and cross-view mirrors in addition to stop-sign arms.

The school students are also further protected by law. The law prevents drivers from passing a school bus when students are being dropped off or picked up, irrespective of the direction from which he/she is approaching.

Bus Stop Safety

It is not riding the bus that poses the greatest risk to the school students. The risk is higher when approaching or leaving the bus. Prior to going back to school or starting school for the very first time, the parents and children must have a clear idea of the traffic safety rules.

Parents must teach their children to follow all road rules and safe practices so that waiting for school bus at bus stops becomes safer for them. 

Children must reach the bus stop from where they board their school bus at least 5 minutes prior to the scheduled arrival time of the bus. Parents can visit the school bus stop and show the children where they wait to safely board the bus.

Children should wait at least six feet or three giant steps away from the curb. Children should also be told clearly that they should not run around or play when waiting for the school bus.

When it comes to boarding or getting down from the school bus, children should be taught to be patient, until the door gets opened, and the driver announces that they can board or get down at the bus stop.

Children should also be taught to hold the handrails so that they don’t fall down while boarding or alighting from the bus.

Children should never be allowed to walk behind the school bus. If a child has to cross the street to board the bus, he/she should be trained to walk on the sidewalk or along the street on the side to a point which is at least 10 feet or 5 giant steps in front of the school bus prior to crossing the street.

It is also important that children make an eye contact with the school bus driver prior to crossing the street in order to make sure that the driver has seen him/her. At times children might drop a book or a ball near their school bus but they should never try to pick them up.

This is because the driver may not be able to see them. The safest thing to do in such a situation is to inform the bus driver.

On their part, school bus drivers can take care of a few things to make school bus travel safer for children. When backing the bus out of driveways or leaving garages, they must keep a watch on children that are bicycling or walking to school.

The same rule applies when driving the bus around the neighbourhoods within school zones. Drivers should watch out for children walking or cycling to school.

It pays to slow down the bus and watch out for children that are walking on the street, especially if the neighbourhood does not have any sidewalks.

They should also be aware of children congregating and playing near school bus stops. Drivers should also be vigilant as children that arrive late might run on to the street unaware of the traffic.

In addition, drivers must be aware of the school bus laws in their state and obey them. This includes the use of the flashing light signal system for alerting motorists.

Flashing yellow lights indicate that the school bus is going to stop either to enable the children to board the bus or alight from the bus. This is a warning for the other motorists to either slow down or prepare for stopping their vehicles.

When the red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, other motorists understand that the school bus has been stopped for children to either get into or get off the bus.

Motorists will immediately stop their vehicles and continue to wait until the driver puts off the flashing red lights and withdraws the extended stop-arm.

The school bus starts moving even before other motorists start driving their vehicles again. Further, refresher training courses are available for school bus drivers to ensure the safety of children during the school year.

It is not an easy decision for parents to allow their children to travel to and from school on the school bus. However, it is important that they keep in mind the fact that, even without seat belts, a school bus that operates as per regulations is the safest option for school children.

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10 Precious Tips to Help You Get Better At School Buses Driver Roles

School bus drivers are charged with the responsibility of getting children to and from school in a secure and efficient environment. In most districts, the face that parents get to see more often than the school principal or the teacher is that of the school bus driver.

In fact, one little mistake at their end can cause major damages. For instance, drivers carrying junior school students must ensure that students are seated safely,  and each child reaches home on time.

Great bus drivers don’t just drive, they care. They take every step possible to give their passengers a memorable experience.

And if they are school bus drivers, they need to have certain additional characteristics since the passengers they are dealing with includes children from all age groups and the audience they are reporting to is varied – parents, teachers, school authorities, and transport authorities.

So, what are the qualities of a great school bus driver? How can you become better in your position and earn appreciation? Here are 10 tips that help you to become a better school driver:

  1. Be Personal

As the driver, you’re representing the school and taking the child’s responsibility in your hands. As your driving skills are crucial to evaluate your performance, your ability to interact and manage the children is also of utmost importance.

It is your job to comfort the parents and make them feel at ease as they board the child on your bus. Parents remember and appreciate your kindness and friendliness. Pass a smile to every child and parent, try to know their names, and build a bond.

  1. Be Patient with Kids

School bus drivers are responsible for kids  of age groups from 3 years to 17 years. Children in this age group can do all sorts of nuisances.

Some can get violent,  some tend to get adamant about seating, and some can indulge in misbehavior with other genders. Driving such a large vehicle and at the same time managing the kids require quite a bit of skill and patience.

If you are someone who tends to lose temper on small issues, being a school bus driver is not the right choice for you. A school bus driver must be able to handle all activities with patience and with ease.

  1. Know What you are Driving

There’s a huge difference between driving a bus and a personal car. A school bus driver must completely understand the difference between the two and should be able to handle it appropriately. A school bus needs to be safe at all times, which means that your driving skills must ensure this.

A trained and experienced school bus driver will have the best judgment when it comes to taking U-turns and crossing past traffic. If you fear such instances, take some time to practice bus driving and stay on the route in different situations and scenarios.

  1. Excellent Route Management

School buses have a specific route with every child getting off at their respective bus stops. The timings on the route are also fixed.

A school bus driver must perfectly follow this route and make sure all happens at the right time. You need to curb yourself from taking shortcuts or alternative routes if that hinders time management and eliminates some stops on the way.

  1. Be a Leader

A school bus driver is in charge of all the students traveling in it. This means that you must be a leader who is willing to take the wheel when things need to be done.

Have the confidence to lead and take necessary decisions when they need to be taken, keeping the overall well-being of the passengers in mind.

  1. Stay Calm Under Pressure

School bus drivers do not have control over what’s happening on the road. So, you need to be prepared for anything and everything like:

  1. Road rage
  2. Traffic conditions
  3. Poor weather conditions

As a driver, you must focus on the safety of your passengers. That must be prime. You must take rational decisions by remaining calm even under situations of pressure.

  1. Be Committed

Just like any other job, it is important that you have a passion for your work and remain dedicated to it. One-third of your life is spent at work and therefore, you must love and respect what you do.

If you are not satisfied with the duty assigned to you, discuss the same with a school authority or opt for another job position.

The best school bus drivers are proud of what they are doing.

  1. Reach the Garage in Time

According to the rules of every school, the vehicle must reach the garage or a particular parking lot after school hours.

Bus drivers must respect this rule and ensure that they reach the designated lot in a timely fashion – without taking too many personal halts or just wandering around as per their choice.

  1. Respect Others

Your duty does not end at carrying students to and from school. While that is the foundation of your job, you must also maintain respectful relations with parents, teachers, colleagues, and other officials. Each of these individuals is essential for success and you must appreciate them with all your heart.

  1. Safety is Priority

Even though this has come in the end, it doesn’t mean that it is of any less value. It is as important as the first tip suggested in this blog.

A dedicated school bus driver will always diligently follow the route and meet all scheduled timings; wear the seat and follow traffic rules; and not over speed, no matter what. Everyone’s safety is the priority!

School bus drivers must understand the nature of responsibility handed over to them and respect the same. This not only makes their job easier but also makes it a lot more productive and fun.

If you are starting your career as a school bus driver or if you are already in the league, utilize these tips and there’s no reason why you wouldn’t become a better school bus driver. You could probably be recognized as the best of the best!

Read More : Great School Bus Drivers – A Short Guide

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​School Bus Software: Buyer’s Guide

Tight schedules and busy work hours force most parents to depend on school buses for the transportation of their kids to and from schools. Unfortunately, safety concerns arise due to various reasons, including difficulties involved in managing a large fleet of school buses.

Schools that make use of well-designed school bus management software, integrating technologies such as RFID and GPS, can provide a great deal of relief to parents. The aim of this post is to develop a buyer's guide so that it becomes easy for school authorities to choose the right school bus software.

The school bus software helps school authorities to monitor as well as manage students, vehicles, and drivers to ensure on-time arrivals by travelling through the most efficient and safest routes to the school.

The software suite will also provide the school with all the tools required to manage the operation of the school bus fleet in the best possible manner. The software helps to:

  • Minimize/Eliminate Route Hazards
  • Guarantee On-time Student Arrivals
  • Simplify Scheduling of Drivers
  • Provide Information about School Buses in Real-time
  • Ensure On-time Fleet Maintenance

Components of School Bus Software

The school bus software programme that you are planning to buy must have at least the following key modules:

1. Field Trip Planner

This module should be an end-to-end system for managing field trips. It should be capable of handling all aspects right from approvals to raising bills and invoices.

The right software would reduce the amount of paperwork required for conducting field trips, speed up the field trip approval and payment processes, and eliminate booking conflicts.

Key features to look for include the following:

Automation of Field Trip Approval – This involves automation of both field trip requests and approvals through email alerts.

Centralized Control of Field Trip Data – The software should be capable of estimating trip costs, verifying the availability of vehicle and driver, allocating buses, and recording trip mileage and driver hours from a central location.

Generation of Invoices and Payroll – It enables you to quickly and easily generate school invoices and payroll statements of drivers.

Tracking and Reporting Trip Details – The software should have the ability to keep track of hours logged by drivers, driver schedules, trip mileage, and expenses.

2: Driver Deployment

The aim of this module is to manage driver deployment by effectively communicating with driver regarding their assignments and schedules.

The staff in charge of transportation management should be able to enter the time off periods for drivers, track absenteeism due to sickness, and view work assignments online from anywhere. In addition, this software module should enable a calendar-based view with respect to driver availability.

This module must have these features:

Web-based Management of Deployment – Web-based monitoring and scheduling systems help you to manage driver deployment with ease anytime and anywhere.

Efficient and Effective Driver Scheduling – Driver deployment becomes more effective and efficient as you will be able to view the routes, driver status, field trips, and availability of buses on a daily basis so that it becomes easy to do driver scheduling and communicate to the entire team about the changes made in real-time.

Calendar-based View – The school bus software that you are planning to buy must offer a calendar-based view to provide you with the complete picture of the scheduled activities. It is better if it also offers filtration of data on driver, activity, and day, individually and in any combination.

3. Routing and Scheduling

The routing and scheduling module of the school bus software makes fleet management easy and less time-consuming.

It also serves to optimize routes and track students and buses. If it is a web-based solution, it enables a real-time map view without the need to install any software on the computer.

When dealing with many vendors, integration can be challenging. However, the best software will ensure student safety as it integrates routing, vehicle and student tracking, and video surveillance on one system. In addition, it should carry out route comparison to identify the best and safe route.

4. Fleet Maintenance

The school bus fleet maintenance module has a key role to play in terms of ensuring serviceability of the vehicles and cost reduction. Its inventory management system should be capable of helping you in identifying opportunities for parts and labour savings and improving the efficiency of operation and vehicle maintenance.

The benefits offered by the fleet maintenance module include a reduction in vehicle downtime, simplifying job assignments, and lowering fleet maintenance costs.

This module must include the following features:

  • Automation of vehicle maintenance scheduling including the creation of work orders, scheduling technician’s time, generation of preventative maintenance schedules, and receiving automated notifications on completion of work.
  • Must enable you to view maintenance history of each vehicle so that you can track increases in expenses due to negligence and analyse labour cost, and plan parts purchases and future maintenance schedules.
  • Whether it reflects parts inventory accurately so that maintenance cost can be worked out correctly and stocks replenished on time.
  • Whether it contributes to improving the maintenance efficiency by generating reports on work orders, technician’s time, usage of parts, and provide invoice summary to identify labour savings.

5. School Bus Portal

It is a good idea if a School Bus Portal is included as part of the software so that parents can sign up and get bus arrival notifications in real time.

The application must be fully integrated with the routing module to deliver information about the arrival of the school bus to parents via push SMS or notification. The portal provides plenty of benefits to both school administrators and parents.

Seven Factors to Be Considered While Planning to Buy School Bus Software

Selecting school bus software is a challenging task especially because many options are available in the market. It is, therefore, important to develop a comprehensive strategy for selecting the right software and provider. School administrators can consider the following factors when assessing various software and providers:

Why software is needed

The school bus software helps to overcome what is lacking in the current system in terms of efficiency and operational convenience. It improves communication, response time, and route scheduling efficiency.

Trustworthiness of the vendor

It is important to ensure that the vendor you want to work with is reliable, credible, and respected for their integrity. It is not worth getting stuck with a vendor that doesn’t serve your best interest.

You must do some background checks to have a clear understanding as to how long the vendor has been in business and how many customers does the vendor have.

Reliability

Apart from trustworthiness, the reliability of the vendor’s product should also be ascertained. Reading through testimonials and reviews will be helpful in this regard.

Implementation

The key aspect to be considered in this respect is whether the vendor offers a comprehensive implementation process that eliminates unnecessary points. Typically, the implementation process is offered for an additional payment. However, it might be worth  to ensure a smooth transition to the new software.

Support

Make sure that the vendor provides support and service after sale if required, even if an additional payment is required for the purpose.

Pricing

It is important to consider the pricing, but the price is not everything. You should look at the value addition it can provide.

Return on investment

Once the offerings of each vendor and price are clearly worked out, the next step is to determine as to which vendor will be able to provide the most cost-effective solution that will effectively improve the school bus fleet operational efficiency the most. Prior to making the final decision, it is important to consider the return on investment.

School bus software is designed in such a way that it helps to ensure the safety of the children and can also helpful in providing cost benefits in the long run.

 

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