School-related violence is on the rise in the United States and this has parents and school district officials worried about the safety of students on buses. Bus drivers work in tight spaces and must constantly multitask. This stressful environment can be tricky to navigate, but specialized training for school bus drivers can help them to manage conflict and prevent violent, potentially tragic scenarios.
School buses continue to be touted as one of the safest forms of transportation around, but does school bus ridership also influence student engagement? An Education Week report suggests that student engagement starts to drop between the fifth and sixth grade. The decline in engagement appears to happen alongside a slide in school bus ridership, though the correlation between the two is not completely understood.
This fall, Wisconsin implemented an eight-way light system for school buses throughout the state. This measure aims to increase the safety of students who rely on school bus transportation. A law that went into effect on August 16 now requires the eight-light system on newer buses statewide. The new law will apply to all buses manufactured after the 1st of January, 2005.
School districts across the country are dealing with a critical bus driver shortage. This is not a new problem, but it’s an issue that is increasing in severity. In 2014, only 15 percent of school bus contracting companies reported no driver shortage. In 2015, all but
six percent reported a driver shortage.
Indiana recently began conducting its standard yearly school bus safety inspections on all the vehicles across the state, and the good news is that there were very few problems. According to police conducting the inspections, most of the problems found were relatively minor and easily fixed, and one of the districts surveyed passed with 100 percent on the first try.
Survey results released by the Florida Department of Education indicate that illegal passing of school buses is a continued problem. Nearly 10,000 drivers across the state participated in the survey, which documented the number and type of illegal incidents, along with what part of the day they took place. Unfortunately, illegal passing is not unique to Florida. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that most violations go unreported, so the problem may be extraordinarily widespread.
Fulton County, Georgia, is implementing a new program that will use stop-arm cameras to catch drivers who illegally pass school buses. School districts across the country are finding success with similar programs, designed to enhance school bus safety. Stop-arm cameras provide photographic evidence of vehicles that pass school buses while they are preparing to unload or load students.
Sleep apnea is a serious health condition that affects millions of Americans. Those that suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) experience pauses in breathing throughout the night, which can lead to daytime sleepiness, lack of concentration, decreased memory, and a higher risk of accidents, along with additional health concerns like high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. This concern led the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to consider the potential screening of commercial drivers for OSA.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has proposed regulations for entry-level commercial truck and bus drivers to complete certain training prerequisites before obtaining their commercial driver's license (CDL).
Bullying is a major concern across the country, and in Central Florida, a special two-day training session provided special tools for bus drivers facing this issue.
Bullying on the Bus
Close to 1,500 employees of the Orange County School District in Florida met at the Orlando Convention Center to discuss emergency response techniques and bullying on the bus. Discussed were some of the signs of bullying and what to do when bullying is suspected. Though most teachers and school administrators receive training on bullying prevention, school bullying often takes place outside of the classroom setting.