Six Reasons Why School Bus Drivers Quit
Monday May 13, 2019
With school bus drivers quitting or retiring from their roles at a faster rate, many school districts are now reporting diverse difficulties in recruiting and retaining drivers.
They handle many responsibilities including ensuring the safety of children getting on and off the bus, following traffic rules and road signs.
Driver shortage increases headache to school districts
School bus driver shortage is a rising concern amongst school districts, leading to longer waits for a ride to school as well as crowded buses for students.
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Shortage is getting so severe that even bonuses are offered for these drivers who sign up for the job. People in role of Mechanics are now driving kids from and to school. Shortages are also leading to route cancellations in many districts.
School Bus Fleet Magazine’s survey highlights that 90% of respondents have some degree of school bus driver shortage. Key factors that are reported to be causing these shortages include delay in getting a commercial driver’s license (CDL) which may take even up to 6 months, rate of pay, reduced work hours and more.
As there is lack of qualified applicants, many public schools are now moving to more proficient systems, where each driver will be required to take more pick-up times at different schools.
However, there are complaints arising from drivers who have to do a double-run that they are not getting enough notice, which hinders their scheduled breaks.
Here are some key reasons for why these drivers leave their jobs
1. Low wages
Low payment rates are also forcing drivers to leave their job, even if they are interested in this profession. For drivers, payment will be low, often till they have their commercial license.
The salary provided also depends on their driving experience, work history as well as location of work and the hours they worked.
2. Lack of benefits
Earlier most school districts considered driving a school bus as a part-time work, especially in summer. So the drivers were allowed only part-time payments, and limited benefits, preventing them from receiving and full time employment benefits like health insurance.
Splitting their shifts in to morning and afternoon also restricts these transportation staff from earning any additional income. Even if they work regular hours, reports prove that they receive benefits that are much lesser than what most full-time employees in the school district receive.
3. Health issues
Driving for long hours can lead to health issues in drivers. Health issues that school bus drivers often face includes stress, insomnia, muscular pains, obesity, respiratory and infectious diseases due to exposure to pollutants, gastric disorders due to irregular food habits and more.
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It is highly recommended for drivers to take regular medical checkups, eat right based on a nutritionist’s instructions, take enough rest, exercise regularly to avoid weight gain and improve body strength.
4. Lack of Administrative Support
Lack of support from school management is also a key reason for drivers to quit their job.
Some common complaints from drivers in many school communities include: no authority given to make children follow rules on their buses, no support from management when parents complain, implementation of policies that don’t support driving staff, paying a deaf ear to driver’s report on children’s unsafe behavior on the bus.
5. Bad Hours
Another major issue for bus drivers is the hours they have to work. Split shifts and irregular working hours can make it extremely difficult for them to get another part-time job.
However extra runs they get during summer vacation can help them get paid and improve earnings. To meet driver shortages, Stock Transportation is now coming up with new agreements that offer more paid hours.
One such recent agreement for Toronto school bus drivers includes an 8.1% increase to the base driving salary and a minimum of four hours pay is guaranteed.
6. Start-up expenses
You need to become a certified bus driver, before being eligible to transport students in school bus. Also before being appointed, they will be recommended to a pre-employment background check, drug test as well as physical test, which also cost them.
They should also go through formal training classes conducted by the state office of pupil transportation (OPT). By successfully completing this training, they can pass the two-part bus driver examination.