Back-to-School Safety Reminders for PA Bus Drivers

Back to school season is here and buses are back on the roads. As PA bus drivers, it’s an excellent opportunity to refresh your safe driving habits and confidently share the road with other school buses. 

School buses are designed for safety. In fact, they are the safest vehicles on the road. Based on the report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), children are nearly 70 times more likely to get to school safely in a school bus instead of traveling by car.

Practicing safe driving habits

As school buses carry the youngsters to and from school, extensive measures have been taken to ensure these vehicles are as safe as possible. 

However, accidents do happen at times. When children get on and off the bus or walk to a bus stop, they are most likely at risk of being hit by other school buses or other vehicles. Also, it’s not uncommon to see kids getting rowdy on the school bus, which distracts the driver and causes the bus to crash. 

According to an NHTSA report of the school-age pedestrians fatally injured in school transportation-related crashes between 2006 and 2015:

  • 36% were hit by other vehicles involved in the crashes.
  • 3% were struck by vehicles functioning as school buses.
  • 61% were hit by school buses.

Fortunately, these incidents are preventable by finding ways to share the road safely. 

For school bus drivers to brush up on their safety habits, consider the following tips:

1) Safety begins in the driver’s seat

Every school bus driver should start their day by checking their bus to ensure the vehicle is in top mechanical condition. Drivers usually have a company safety checklist to follow. 

However, there’s one safety component that drivers may overlook but is as crucial as turn signals and safety brakes — their personal well-being.

Staying alert and focused at all times is crucial for all school drivers. To promote focus and alertness, every school bus driver should make sure that they’re healthy and well-rested before getting behind the wheel. This suggestion means they should plan at least a day ahead, ensuring they are eating correctly, getting enough sleep, and avoiding alcohol and medications that could interfere with their sleep or cause them to feel drowsy or sluggish the next day.

2) Check the surroundings while driving

By driving defensively, school bus drivers can avoid an accident from happening due to other drivers’ inattentiveness. Being aware of their surroundings will increase their preparedness to prevent an accident.

3) Control children’s rowdy behavior on the school bus

It’s one of the realities of every school bus driver: misbehaving children. Their rowdy behavior may cause the driver to lose their focus on the road, which is a potential risk factor for road accidents and injuries.

Here are a few tips to help bus drivers get students under control:

  • Establish bus rules – Outline and explain the rules to the children in detail, including consequences they may face if they violate them. Have the rules clearly displayed inside the bus, or write them down and distribute them to the students, parents, and teachers. Having written rules will ensure that the expectations are clear and help avoid miscommunication among parties regarding which bus behavior is unacceptable.
  • Use positive reinforcement – Encouraging and rewarding good behavior is often more effective than punishing bad behavior. School bus drivers should design a system to award points, prizes, or recognition to children who follow the rules and display good behavior. The rewards can be in different forms, such as a note of compliment, a gift of any kind, or a homework exemption from the student’s teachers. Drivers should coordinate with the teachers to establish and invent ideas for reward options to ensure that both parties are on the same page.
  • Put up a video surveillance system – Installing surveillance cameras inside buses is a quick way to encourage good behavior from the students. Cameras also protect students and drivers by providing concrete proof in the event of any disputes or false accusations that may arise. Reviewing video recordings regularly may help drivers and the school administration determine whether their discipline system is effective. Also, drivers and school officials should inform students and their parents that the bus records each trip and that they consent to this measure when kids get on the bus by riding the bus.

A good sense of responsibility and accountability is one of the characteristics of good PA bus drivers. It is also one of the keys to road safety. Brush up on your bus driving safety rules and be physically and mentally ready for the new school year! Reading our article, “How to Avoid Distractions While Driving,” may also help.

If you want to become a school bus driver or attendant in Philadelphia, check out the job openings here.