School Bus Risk Management

Written by
January 30th, 2012

The school transportation department of Redondo Beach, CA developed this list of thought provoking questions for school bus risk management. If your district suffers a serious school bus accident, be prepared to answer these types of questions:

What Specific Steps Must a Person Take to  Become a School Bus Driver?

  • Is there a specific initial training curriculum?
  • If so, does this involve classroom training? How many hours?
  • Describe the training content.
  • Do you provide in-vehicle training? How many hours?
  • Do you identify each driver’s areas that need improvement? Do you document this training?
  • Do you provide any specific training about railroad grade crossings, loading and unloading passengers, or emergency evacuation drills?

Who Trains Your School Bus Drivers?

  • What qualifications must a person have to become a school bus driver training instructor?
  • Are these instructors certified? If so, how do they become certified?
  • Are these instructors required to have any experience in teaching or training?
  • Are they required to have experience in school bus driving or transportation?
  • What are the qualifications of the instructor-trainers that train your instructors?

Do You Have a Plan For the Periodic Recertification of Your Drivers?

  • What are your requirements for periodic driver recertification?
  • What topics are covered in the recertification program?
  • What training do your drivers receive addressing discipline and noise levels on the bus?
  • Do you document the training items covered during your recertification process?
  • Do you document the drivers who participate in the recertification?

Do You Have a System of Supervising Your Drivers on Their Routes?

  • How many supervisors monitor driver performance? What is the ratio of supervisors to drivers?
  • Do the supervisors ever ride with the drivers to monitor their performance? How often?
  • How often are your drivers evaluated?
  • Have you ever dismissed a driver “for cause”?
  • Do you have your own guidelines and/or policies, or do you use state guidelines? What are they?

How Are School Bus Routes Established in Your District?

  • Are there specific, written guidelines established for the development of bus routes?
  • Who is responsible for establishing the routes?
  • How often are routes re-evaluated?
  • What is the National Standard for the periodic re-evaluation of school bus routes?

Do You Have Any Mechanism In Place to Identify Hazards on School Bus Routes?

  • Do you follow up on reports of hazardous conditions? How?
  • Is the hazardous notification policy written or verbal? Who reviews these reports?
  • Do you have written guidelines that deal with specific hazardous conditions once they are identified?

How Do You Ensure That a Driver on a Route is Sufficiently Familiar With That Route Before He/She Goes Out on the Route?

  • How is information about hazardous road/route conditions distributed to the various drivers?
  • What is the procedure to relay information from the regular driver to a substitute driver on a route?
  • Do substitute drivers receive the same information and training as your regular school bus drivers?
  • Is there specific guidance given to substitute drivers on routes?

Does Anyone Routinely Check Routes for Hazardous Conditions?

  • Is there a mechanism in place to check routes on a regular basis?
  • Are routes checked from a school bus or from a car?

Who Is Responsible For the Specifications of the School Buses?

  • Do your buses differ from those that are recognized as the “industry standard”? How?
  • Have you modified your buses in any way or added any “extras”? Why?
  • Do you require drivers to do pre-trip inspections of their bus before each run?
  • How is this inspection conducted and recorded?

Are You Familiar With Your State and National School Bus Associations?

  • Do you participate or receive any feedback from any organization?
  • Are you familiar with the National Standards for School Transportation?
  • Have any of these standards been adopted by your state?

Wisconsin schools can contact R&R Insurance’s School Practice Group for more information on school bus risk management, safety procedures and school district programs.

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