The primary duty of the School Bus Driver is the transportation of students to and from school regularly. The parents and the school entrust their children to the school bus driver for safe and secure transportation. He has to be committed to his profession in order to work to the satisfaction of all concerned.
A school bus driver’s job is considered an easy, simple task and not considered worthy of mention. The stress and strain undergone by the drivers in the seemingly simple task of transportation are not to be neglected.
They deserve enormous respect for the one single fact that they are the safe transporters of the nations young.
School Bus Driver – Role
The role of a school bus driver is a multi-faceted one. His responsibility is not limited to mere driving. In addition to possessing a valid driver’s license he needs to both possess driving and inter-personal relationship skills.
Driving skills include knowledge of traffic rules and experience in driving heavy vehicles. Ability to stay focused on the road and to remain alert at all times is a necessity for safe driving.
School bus drivers interact with students, parents, teachers, school authorities, transport companies, other drivers on the road on a daily basis.
The driver’s attitude and behavior have a large impact on the relations with each one of them. The expectations from a school bus driver are many and the challenges faced by him from various quarters are even greater.
The school bus driver is expected to be a perfect time-manager. Sticking to designated routes and being punctual at bus stops and on-time arrival at school is of daily concern to the driver.
A slight deviation in timings caused due to traffic blocks, accidents or even late arrival of children at stops invites the wrath of both parents and school.
slight deviation in timings caused due to traffic blocks, accidents or even late arrival of children at stops invites the wrath of both parents and school.
School bus drivers are the first point of contact for parents each day. Since the bus drivers have a one to one interaction with the parents, they are required to be pleasant and smiling always.
They have to be kind and polite with the students and parents. This will assure the parent that there child is in good hands.
The driver has to be positive and dedicated to his job. An understanding of his prime responsibility of the safe transportation of children is necessary to ensure his commitment.
School Bus Driver Challenges
School bus drivers are responsible for the hundreds of children riding the buses to school and back. The safety of the children on-board their buses is a source of constant worry to them.
The biggest challenge for the school bus driver lies in driving a bus-load of 50 noisy children seated behind him, with only one mirror above his head to check their behavior.
The students keep talking, laughing, shouting, crying, fighting among themselves. Some of them will be eating, walking up and down the aisle, ripping seats and some with special needs. Unruly behavior of students on buses is very common.
Students do not give enough respect to bus drivers. Students insult, use swear words and accuses the drives when he tries to discipline them.
At times, the drivers have to stop the buses to quiet the children and assure minimum disturbance before he proceeds further. This causes delays in the time schedules.
The students are disrespectful by leaving garbage in the bus to be cleaned by the drivers later. The students feel they have the liberty to do anything once outside the school campus. They are a disturbance to their riding compatriots who are quiet and disciplined and want to enjoy a safe ride.
School bus drivers do not expect impeccable behavior from youngsters. They only require them to have peaceful conversations without any disturbance.
The drivers, while keeping an eye on the students, need to drive safely, watching out for traffic on all sides. He has to comply with road signs, traffic signals, speed limits and crossings. The driver’s stress is compounded in adverse weather conditions.
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The boisterous and noisy students on the bus are a major cause of distraction to the drivers.The school bus driver has to monitor and maintain a level of discipline on the bus to minimize distractions. A moment of inattention can imperil the lives of the young children under his care.
Despite all the effort taken by the school bus driver to maintain cordial relations with all, he is faced with countless problems from parents. He feels misunderstood and unappreciated by them.
Parents are always defensive when the driver points out the misconduct of their ward. This gives the child the feeling that he can misbehave and the driver is not an authority to be obeyed.
Prima facie the driver is blamed for any mishap on the bus by students, parents and school.The child’s version of the disciplinary measure meted out to him by the school bus driver very often upsets the parents. Parents react without learning the facts of the situation. They fail to give the driver the benefit of doubt.
The driver is usually faulted for non-tactful handling of the situation. This minimizes the impact of the wrong-doing and the student continues to engage in dangerous activities.
Parents can communicate with drivers through the special windows, but very often they barge into the bus blocking the entry passage. They interfere in fights among students and directly admonish those involved with their child.
The school bus drivers are reprimanded by the school administration for minor accidents, short delays, route deviations, faulty records. Many a time, the drivers are not given a fair hearing for their lapses. Reasons beyond the school bus drivers control are very often not given due consideration.
The cumbersome procedure in reporting of misbehavior of children on the bus does not elicit the desired result. The school bus driver reports misconduct.
The students are then removed from the bus. Parents complain and the students are re-instated. The driver’s efforts to maintain a level of decorum is disregarded.
Employing an annoyed, de-motivated, frustrated and distracted driver compromises the safety of children on board the bus.
The drivers have to deal with malfunctioning equipment in the bus like cameras, alarms, sensors etc. They are not trained sufficiently to handle medical emergencies or special needs children. Quick and ready access to their superiors is limited.
Long hours behind the wheels and irregular food habits cause health challenges in them. Stress, insomnia, obesity, muscular pains and gastric disorders are common ailments among the drivers.
Why the drivers deserve respect
All these factors show how exhausting the school bus driver’s job is. Every day offers something new and unstructured. Their performance against all odds is commendable.
School bus drivers need to be respected and appreciated for reaching students safely to school and back, amidst daunting circumstances inside and outside the bus.
The students need to be made aware of the difficult job that the drivers handle. They have to be taught that their safety is in the hands of the driver. Parents and school have to inculcate in them a respect for drivers.
The thoughtless complaints raised against the drivers lower their morale and motivation to perform. It would be beneficial to school bus drivers and authorities if due consideration is given to how challenging it is to navigate a cabin filled with young children through traffic and adverse weather while simultaneously maintaining discipline and order in the bus.
It is customary for school authorities to reward exemplary students and compliment teachers. The system of transportation is often overlooked until something bad occurs. They should be equated with the other staff in the school system.
The drivers do not seek any special recognition. They need to be listened to. Their requests should be heeded.All that the school bus drivers require is to feel included, that they are an important part of student education.
This dedicated group of drivers should be thanked profusely and praised for their efforts in safely transporting the students to school and back.