How School Bus Driver Training Improves Emergency Response and Saves Lives

School buses are the safest way for students to get to and from school. According to the American School Bus Council, less than 1% of youth fatalities during school travel hours occur in a school bus. As a result, parents are comfortable entrusting the safety and security of their children to school bus drivers.


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These safety statistics are proof of the success school districts have experienced with their school bus driver training programs and safety protocols. This high standard must be maintained at all costs. To keep school bus journeys as safe as possible, more technology has been introduced in vehicles. As a result, administrators must ensure that training programs for bus drivers keep pace with the rapidly changing transportation industry.


In this article, we will look at important components of school bus driver training programs and how they help to ensure safety.


Components in Successful School Bus Driver Training Programs

Specific training about the safety features of individual school bus models

As technology provides new ways to improve safety standards across the country, bus drivers must stay informed of the technologies and solutions deployed in the vehicles they drive.


From security cameras to vehicle tracking solutions, each of these technologies plays an important role in developing a holistic stack of solutions that improve in-vehicle safety. During training, bus drivers are made aware of how they can use these tools to maintain high levels of safety during their daily journeys and how these tools can be deployed during an emergency to support the emergency response team.


This information is also useful in emergencies where first responders might not be aware of specific seat configurations, safety technologies, or technical information that might be unique to a line of school buses. School bus fleets can differ greatly from area to area, depending on regulations and vehicle manufacturers. School bus driver training closes these information gaps and allows drivers to play an important supporting role during emergencies.


Student involvement and relationship building between students and their bus drivers

During disaster and emergency responses, the relationship between bus drivers and students can either help or hinder recovery efforts. Bus drivers and students need to work together during times of crisis to avoid the creation of additional safety hazards.


The importance of this relationship is handled during training sessions in two ways. First, bus drivers are equipped with the necessary tools to maintain a safe environment in the bus. This is achieved through in-vehicle tools such as cameras and seat belt indicators. In addition, behavior management training also provides drivers with the necessary skills to ensure that students in the bus are not creating dangerous situations by fighting, standing, or walking around while the bus is in transit.


The second way this relationship is built is through student participation in school bus driver training exercises, such as in this mock casualty training in Ohio. This ensures that everyone on the bus knows what to do when an emergency occurs. The strength of the relationship between bus drivers and students can also help manage stress levels among the passengers on the bus. The trust built during these sessions can be leveraged during intense emergencies that require students to obey instructions from the bus driver quickly and without question.


How School Bus Driver Training Directly Saves Lives and Reduces Risk

Bus drivers can monitor their vehicles for potential red flags and safety gaps

Unlike unpreventable road emergencies, vehicle failures and suboptimal vehicle performance can be identified and solved proactively. School bus driver training helps drivers identify the potential points of failure and the metrics they should look out for to ensure their pre-drive checks are comprehensive and effective. Potential problems can then be spotted and fixed before the problem escalates to being a safety issue.


School bus fleets are also increasingly automating this procedure with advanced fleet telematics software. While this allows bus drivers and fleet managers to conduct these checks more effectively, they must know how to make the most of it. School bus training allows these drivers to learn how to use such software to prevent accidents and communicate effectively using technology in case of an emergency.


Bus drivers can be trained to maintain a safe environment in the school bus

The school bus is a much safer way for children to get to school than cars and other vehicles. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveal that children are 70 times safer in a school bus than in a car.


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This statistic is the result of standardized safety rules that are enforced in the vast majority of school buses. Simple rules, such as no standing while the vehicle is in motion, can significantly reduce safety concerns. School bus driver training takes this one step further by instructing drivers in behavior management techniques and empowering them to politely enforce safety rules in the vehicle.


While such rules can be enacted, children sometimes inadvertently push an emergency-only button or pull a lever while engaging in horseplay. Technology allows bus drivers to get ahead of these problems with sensors and alerts. Any anomaly detected during pre and post-trip checks can also be resolved quickly to ensure safety in transit.


Ultimately, school bus driver training programs have proven to be effective in keeping students and drivers safe when they are on the road. To maintain this success, school bus fleets have evolved to include modern technology such as fleet trackers, vehicle monitoring systems, and more. School bus driver training ensures that drivers are equipped with the right information to make the best of these innovations and technologies.


To learn about how you can use fleet telematics to improve safety standards in school buses, request a Fleet Complete for School Transportation demo today.


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