School bus safety and transportation play an important and long-term role in the lives of children from primary through high school.
The following guidelines are intended to provide a framework of school transportation comprehensive regulations that may be adopted by schools and colleges to enhance safe transportation for school/college students on our roads.
1.0 School Bus Safety Features
1.1. Lap/shoulder belt restraint system for use as directed.
1.2. All children must travel in child-restraint system when transported in all motor vehicles and school buses to ensure safest ride possible.
1.3. Requirement of mirrors to improve driver visibility in front and along both sides of school bus.
2.0 School Bus Driver Selection, Training and Performance
The responsibility of driver recruitment should involve both the Parents Teachers Association representation and school administration due to the important responsibility that is entrusted those persons. The selection and training should be rigorous and include retraining and regular re-evaluation to ascertain alertness, consistency and proficiency. To meet basic requirements, school bus drivers should:-
2.1 Maintain a valid commercial driver’s licence.
2.2 Be at least 21 years of age.
2.3 Provide proof of an annual health history, assessment and physical examinations, including vision and hearing assessments that document the absence of anomalies that may compromise driving and child supervision.
2.4 Successfully complete a written or oral test covering driver duties, bus operating procedures, traffic and school bus regulations, road emergency and crash related procedures, first aid, basic appreciation of the development stages and needs of pre-school and school age child supervision, responsibilities and transportation of passengers with special needs.
2.5 Maintain a satisfactory driving record as determined by the school management.
2.6 Successfully pass an assessment for a criminal record that is reviewed annually (including convictions of child abuse and incidents of arrests for driving under the influence or other drugs).
2.7 To demonstrate operational and driving skills, school bus drivers should:-
2.7.1 Pass a driving performance test and demonstrate safe loading and unloading procedures.
2.7.2 Demonstrate physical capability to successfully accomplish student evacuation test and
2.7.3 Demonstrate correct use of all occupant protection systems that may be available on the school bus including use of car safety seats, seat belts, occupant protection systems that are used by children with special medical or health needs.
3.0 School Bus Passenger Instruction
Passengers of all ages need to be taught safe driving and pedestrian behavior regardless of the frequency of school bus use. Instruction should include pedestrian practices going to and from the bus, safe behaviour while waiting for the bus, safe practices for boarding and disembarking the bus, behaviour in the bus including the use of child restraint systems and seat belts when present and emergency situation. Escort children crossing streets and roads to be considered.
4.0 School Bus Passenger Supervision
Adult supervision on school buses should focus on ensuring that passengers stay seated and use seat belts and occupant protection systems; ensuring that passengers keep their arms and head inside the windows; assisting in emergency circumstances and passengers with special needs and escorting children across roadways, pick up and drop off pupils only at designated stops.
5.0 Responsibility of School Bus Driver
A school bus driver should;
5.1 Be fully in charge of the bus and pupils, has the authority of a classroom teacher and is responsible for the health, safety and welfare of each passenger.
5.2 Operate the school bus in a safe and efficient manner at all times.
5.3 Conduct thorough pre-trip and post-trip checks on the vehicle to ensure that the vehicle and safety equipment is operational, that no child is left on board the bus and that the vehicle is clean and secure.
5.4 Maintain discipline among passengers.
5.5 Meet emergency situations effectively.
5.6 Communicate effectively with school staff, parents and students.
5.7 Dress appropriately.
6.0 Responsibility of School Bus Aide/Attendant
School bus attendant should;
6.1 Assist in loading and unloading of pupils.
6.2 Ensure that pupils and equipment are properly secured to ensure safe transport. Adjust, fasten, and release restraint devices for pupils as required. Continually monitor overall safety of pupils and equipment.
6.3 Ensure that all pupils remain seated at all times.
6.4 Assist the driver during unusual traffic conditions, act as a lookout when backing the bus.
6.5 Monitor and report pupil behavior according to established procedure.
6.6 Assist the driver in keeping the interior of the bus clean.
6.7 Assist the driver with the post-trip inspection to ensure no pupil is left on board the bus.
6.8 Assist pupils with disabilities and with personal needs associated with their disabilities.
6.9 Assist in bus evacuation drills.
7.0 Pupils Conduct on School Buses
Pupils on school buses should;
7.1 Obey the driver promptly and be courteous to the driver and fellow pupils. They are to conduct themselves while on the bus in such a way that they shall not distract the driver from driving tasks.
7.2 Be at their bus stop on time or as required for pickup.
7.3 Wait in a safe manner for the bus on the sidewalk or shoulder, not the roadway.
7.4 Keep a safe distance from the bus while it is in motion.
7.5 Enter the bus when directed to by the bus driver or aide without crowding or disturbing others and occupy their seats immediately.
7.6 Get on or off the bus only when it is stopped.
7.7 Remain seated and facing forward.
7.8 No student shall occupy a position in the driver area that may distract the driver’s attention or interfere with the driver’s vision.
7.9 Stay out of driver’s seat. Also, unnecessary conversation with the driver is prohibited while the bus is in motion.
7.10 Before crossing the road to board the bus, cross only upon an audible clearance signal from the driver/aide.
7.11 Observe classroom conduct when on the bus.
7.12 Do not open the bus windows without permission from the driver, extend any body part out of the windows or call out to passersby.
7.13 Do not smoke, use profanity, eat or drink on the bus.
7.14 Do not throw articles of any kind inside, around the bus or out of the bus windows.
7.15 Other forms of misconduct that shall not be tolerated on the bus and at bus stops are acts such as, but not limited to, bullying, indecent exposure, obscene gestures, spitting and other actions that may be addressed in the code of conduct.
8.0 Procedures for Operating Buses
8.1 No other person other than a pupil, teacher, school official, aide, driver in training or substitute driver shall be permitted to ride on a school bus while transporting pupils. Exceptions may be made for parents, guardians and relative caregivers involved in the Ministry of Education educational programmes that provide for transportation.
8.2 The driver shall maintain discipline on the bus, and shall report cases of disobedience or misconduct to the designated school officials. No pupils may be discharged from the bus for disciplinary reasons except at the home or school. The principal or designated school official shall be notified of such action immediately. Any change to the action taken by the driver or any further disciplinary action to be taken is the responsibility of the principal or designated school official.
8.3 Pupils shall have definite places to board and exit the bus. Pupils should not be allowed to leave the bus at any place other than the regular stop without written permission from their parents, guardians or relative caregiver and approval by the principal or designated school official. Schools may adopt a more restrictive policy.
8.4 Buses shall be brought to a full stop and properly positioned before pupils are allowed to board and exit the bus. Pupils are not permitted to ride outside or in any hazardous location in the bus.
8.5 Buses shall not stop near the crest of hills, on curves, or on upgrades or downgrades of severe inclination. When stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging pupils, the bus shall always be stopped on the left side of the road and as far off the paved or main traveled portion of the highway as the condition of the shoulder permits.
8.6 No one but the driver shall occupy the driver’s seat.
8.7 The doors of the bus shall be kept closed and in the latched position while the bus is in motion.
8.8 When the bus is stopped on school grounds, pupils are aboard, and the motor is running, the transmission shall be in the neutral (clutch disengaged) and the parking brake set. While on school grounds, drivers shall not leave their seat while the motor is running or leave the key in the ignition switch.
8.9 Fuel tanks shall not be filled while the engine is running or while anyone is in the bus.
8.10 Band instruments, shop projects and other school projects shall not be permitted on the bus if they interfere with the driver or other passengers. The aisle, exits and driver’s vision shall not be blocked. A bus shall not be driven backwards on school grounds unless an adult is posted outside the bus to guard the rear of the bus. The driver and adult shall agree on signals to be used for backing.
8.11 Night driving is banned.
8.12 Use of mobile phone while driving is banned as it could distract the driver.
8.13 Any radios, videos or musical instruments that could distract the driver are prohibited.
9.0 Accident Reports Prepared by the School/College Management
The following information shall be included on all school bus accident reports:-
9.1 Description, preferably using diagrams, of the damage to each vehicle in addition to estimates of damage costs.
9.2 A description of all personal injuries.
9.3 A list of passengers and witnesses.
9.4 Name, address and telephone number of the driver.
9.5 If available, the school bus seating chart.
9.6 Insurance and drivers particulars of the vehicles involved in a crash.
9.7 Follow up information, such as the actual cost of repairs, should be added to the accident report wherever it is filed so that the record of the accident is completed. Other pertinent information relating to the accident that should be added later, if the information is readily available, includes:-
9.7.1 Disposition of any litigation.
9.7.2 Disposition of any summonses.
9.7.3 Net effects of all personal injuries sustained, including medical care given, physician’s fees, hospital expenses, etc.
9.7.4 Amount of property damage other than to vehicles involved.
9.7.5 Any corrective actions taken against the school bus driver, e.g., training, suspension, or dismissal.
9.7.6 A summation of the driver’s total accident record so that each completed report form contain a listing of the total number of accidents that the driver has had.
10.0 Contingency Plans
Each County shall have contingency plans for weather, accidents, bomb threats, hostages, civil emergencies, natural disasters, and facility failures (environmental and water, etc.).
These plans shall be developed in cooperation with all those whose services would be required in the event of various types of emergencies.
The Transportation Supervisor, school administrators, teachers, drivers, maintenance and service personnel, pupils, and others shall be instructed in the procedure to be followed in the event of the contingencies provided for in the plans.
11.0 School Bus Inspections
School buses shall be inspected by the Motor Vehicle Inspection Unit biannually. The first inspection period is in January or February and the second inspection period is in June, July or August.
Source: NTSA. For more information visit: