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Is Your Bus Fleet Emergency Ready? Here Are 3 Ways to Tell.

The jobs of school bus drivers and transportation administrators are vitally important. As the adults responsible for getting students to and from school, field trips, and special events safely, taking appropriate precautions to prepare for and respond to emergencies is an important part of these jobs.

How Routing Software Increases Special Needs Student Safety

Transporting special needs students to and from school is a challenge for many bus drivers, even when school bus routes are organized and a school district’s fleet management is effective.

Could Fuel Efficient Tires Be The Solution To The Gas Crisis?

School districts across North America are employing several transportation management solutions to increase fuel efficiency and cut costs, especially given the recent spike in gas prices. Investing in fuel-efficient tires for their buses is one chosen strategy. The question is, do tires designed for fuel efficiency really work? The short answer is: they do, but they don’t necessarily save districts money.

The Dangers of Illegal Bus Passing

When it comes to passing school buses, motorists in each state are subject to a different set of laws and regulations. Though most motorists understand the safety risks of illegally passing a bus, it remains a consistent, though dangerous, practice. In fact, a survey conducted in 2019 by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services indicates that there are more than 17 million violations each school year.

The School Bus Driver Shortage

Getting students safely to and from school is a priority for everyone.  However many school districts are experiencing a shortage in school bus drivers.  School bus driver shortage is an ongoing challenge that districts repeatedly face before, during and throughout each school year.  There are varying reasons for the shortage, but the effects are clear.  The shortage puts additional pressure on existing drivers and route scheduling.

Warning Signs Of School Bus Bullying

Students who are being bullied often exhibit some warning signs.  If parents, school bus drivers, teachers and other school officials are aware of these signs they can take action to stop and work on reducing or eliminating the issues.

Does Student Tracking Ensure Safer Bus Rides?

Despite some initial controversy, RFID-based student tracking systems are beginning to be utilized around the country to make student bussing safer and more effective.

In just the last couple years, programs have been implemented in cities across America. Consistently, the reports have been positive: student tracking truly does help keep students safe, as well as giving districts numerous new ways to optimize their busing.

In the meantime, the fears that this would somehow turn into a "Big Brother" scenario are being shown as unfounded. The potential for gain is great, with very little actual potential for abuse.

While the initial system installation can require a substantial up-front outlay, this investment is quickly rewarded.

Five Ways RFID Student Tracking Creates Better Bus Rides

1) No-Question Bus Ridership Tracking

With RFID scanners on your buses, there's rarely any question as to whether a student rode a bus. After all, they're being recorded every time they get on or off. This, in turn, is transmitted instantly to your servers in the office.

Besides the obvious benefits to your state reporting, this greatly reduces the chances of miscommunication between parents, students, and drivers. If a parent discovers they're unsure whether their child got on the bus, all it takes is a couple mouse-clicks to discover the truth.

2) Improper Departure Alerts

Another benefit to this tracking system is that, when it's tied to a GPS system, the computers will instantly know which students are supposed to get off at which stops. If a student tries to leave the bus at the wrong stop, the driver is immediately alerted so they can assess the situation.

Generally, bus drivers are given some discretion when one child is getting off with a known friend. On the other hand, if a student is simply confused, a potentially dangerous mishap is avoided entirely.

3) Medical Alerts

When a student's records are tied to their bus routing, it means drivers can always be alerted if a student with special medical needs is riding. Students with respiratory or cardiac conditions can be placed where the driver can keep an eye on them.

By the same token, should a legitimate medical emergency occur, the integrated tracking system will speed dispatch response. You'll know within a couple feet where the bus is from the moment it comes to a stop. So, you can already be getting ready to send out assistance.

In situations where minutes can make the difference between life and death, onboard bus tracking systems greatly improve the odds.

4) Truant Student Detection

It happens: A student arrives on the bus in the morning, but then "somehow" ends up behind the gymnasium rather than appearing in class. Or they may simply walk right back off campus before anyone sees them.

Student tracking makes these sorts of games far less likely to work. If you have scanners on your school doors, for example, the system will expect to see the student pass through within a few minutes of delivery. If it doesn't happen, you can be alerted.

Similarly, a few RFID scanners around your perimeter mean you'll know quickly if a student is trying to ditch.

5) More Power to Your Drivers

While it's been a running theme, it's worth explicitly mentioning the improvements to your drivers' experience. Onboard bus tracking systems can take a lot of burdens off their back, leading to better morale and more effective driving:

  • No more annoying hand-written checklists or sign-in sheets.

  • Complete performance tracking reduces their need to manually record bus usage data.

  • Clear and unambiguous onboard maps point them to every logged student's stop.

  • Faster calls for support when help is needed.

  • No chance of getting lost with GPS systems.

In short, these tracking systems help keep your drivers "in the loop," empowering them to make decisions more easily while reducing bureaucratic burdens.

 

Are There Downsides To Student Tracking?

There are remarkably few arguments against RFID tracking, besides the initial installation costs. Otherwise, the most common reported problems are:

  1. Parents misunderstanding the system, and overestimating its effects on privacy. This can be addressed with better communications.

  2. Students wrapping their ID badges in tinfoil to defeat the RFID tracker. However, this is easily countered with a visual check.

  3. Lost cards, which will be an unavoidable ongoing cost.

That said, the overall safety and reporting improvements should vastly outweigh the expenditures associated with replacing lost cards.

Is It Time For Bus Tracking?

On-bus student tracking systems can quickly make your bus routes safer, your drivers happier, and your state reporting easier. The combined cost savings virtually always outweigh the investment, not to mention the ease of mind they bring to both parents and administrators.

To learn more about the power of RFID student tracking, simply contact us to receive a free consultation!

Orbit Software 10 Questions To Ask When Considering A School Bus Tracking System To Minimize Parent Complaints

What do you think? Are there other aspects of student tracking that can help ensure safer bus rides? Let us know in the comments below!

 

12 Warning Signs That Your Bus Capacity Is Unsafe

Out of all the jobs a school does, there's probably none that's more central or vital than protecting the students in its care. Unfortunately, it seems like there's been a rash of incidents lately with schools running buses that are dangerously overcrowded.

School Bus Routing Software: Frequently Asked Questions

You probably have some questions when it comes to all of this talk of school bus routing software, especially when so many other schools are starting to use it. It's not uncommon to have questions about software when it is promising such lofty goals: better bus route management, real-time mapping solutions, and streamlined ways to make sure all of the students get where they need to safely. So, are all of these promises reality? What can you expect from route management software? Here are the top four frequently asked questions on the software and all of their answers.

Ways To Verify The Safety And Efficiency Of Your School's Bus Routes

How long has it been since your school district updated its bus routing and tracking policies?

Quick Tips On How To Shorten Your Bus Routes

It might seem obvious, but there really is no benefit to having your buses on the road any longer than they need to be. Transportation budgets are a huge part of any business that maintains a bus fleet, and every extra minute they're on the road ultimately costs you real money.

Keep Your Employees Organized With Bus Routing Software

 

We bill our BusBoss software as bus routing software, but the truth is, it goes far beyond simply scheduling buses. As more schools move towards entirely computer-based solutions for running their operations, there's a real need for software that performs more than one task. The more functionality a piece of software can provide a district, the more value it provides.

Transportation Management Services: Separating Facts From Fiction

In transportation management services, sometimes popular belief might be easier to accept than fact, especially since the services are directly related to the safety of children, a top agenda for the country. In appeasing the public perception, situations are often mitigated in light of such beliefs, entire budgets and strategies can be altered to protect the myths in transportation management services. While many of the myths are based on some element of truth, they might prove unreliable in certain situations when you need to make decisions, or when faced with a challenge concerning the safety of your students. Here are a few of the myths that may lead to decisions or strategies that may not necessarily add value to the district transportation management service:

The Essential Qualities Of A Transportation Supervisor

As transportation systems become more complex, handling their management and oversight similarly becomes a more complex task. In the past, you may have done well enough scheduling and routing your vehicles with strings and pushpins on maps, and using simple radio (or cell phone) contact to keep in touch with drivers on the road.

Keeping Kids Safe from Predators at the Bus Stop

Many states have laws that prevent registered sex offenders from living too close to schools and parks, but I am not aware of any that restricts their residence based on bus stop location.  Given that suburban and rural America is splattered with bus stops, it is extremely likely that there are registered sex offenders that live near school bus stops.  Registered sex offenders can move just like anyone else.  When was the last time you checked for registered sex offenders near your child’s bus stop?

Why School Bus Monitors are So Important

School buses are truly the country’s largest public transportation systems. In recent years, incidents around the country have forced the important issue of student safety to the forefront. As parents, teachers and administrators advocate for increased security for school bus riders, equipping school buses with monitors is on the rise.

Benefits of Automated Transportation Management Services

Transportation companies around the world have been slowly awakening to the power that modern computers have to optimize and streamline their businesses. Numerous processes relating to the management of your fleet and your route planning can now be automated through software, resulting in large cost decreases.

Ways to Identify a Great School Bus Driver

A great group of bus drivers means that you can have one of the best fleets to manage, making it easier for you to do your job and stay on route with schedules and plans. However, being able to create that group and find those highly professional bus drivers that can handle the stress and responsibilities of being a driver can take a little time to put together. Usually it means looking at resumes and credentials and other such things, but there are also some personality characteristics and other things that can't be found on a resume that need to be addressed, too.

How School Management Systems Operate

The ways to harness technology to make your school run more smoothly and more safely are expanding quickly.  Just a couple decades ago, it was still standard to see school districts doing most of their record-keeping by hand:  drawing bus routes with lines on a map, doing attendance on paper, and still keeping class scores in physical grade books.

How Dispatching Software Can Be Doing More For You

These days, it seems like being in the school system is a pretty thankless job all around, especially if you follow news reports on schools.  However, you know who never gets thanked?  The folks whose job it is to ensure the busses keep running on time.  Even bus drivers occasionally get a package of sweets on holidays from happy parents.  Those in the background providing transportation management services are totally forgotten.

Benefits of School Bus Passes

The school bus pass is not normally considered by most administration, especially when they have so much to worry about and take responsibility for. However, school bus passes are quite important for their highly simple way of making sure that no student is forgotten during the transportation process and is safely taken to their destination with ease.

When and How to Upgrade Your School Management System

It's hard to believe that just a few decades ago, all school record-keeping was done by hand.  Today, a good database-driven school management system is absolutely a necessity.  Between the proliferation of helicopter parenting and ever-increasing societal fears for our youth, you basically cannot lose track of a student for more than a few minutes.

How NOT to Use a Vehicle Monitoring System

Back in the old days, keeping track of each individual vehicle's gas consumption, mileage, and possibly repairs meant a lot of reports, careful tracking, and possible human errors in the system. And when it comes to bigger fleets of buses that are transporting kids everyday, having to track and monitor each bus was especially difficult. Unfortunately, things couldn't be as efficient, but now we have the ability to keep track of an entire fleet through technology and save money while doing it.

Ways To Make Your Transportation Dispatchers' Job Easier

In the hugely competitive marketplace we face today, it is critical for savvy Transportation Directors, Superintendents, and Business Managers to better manage every single business process from your transportation equipment to your drivers to your transportation dispatcher.  For example, in fields like bussing, there are several ways you can streamline the work of your dispatchers to ensure they are operating at optimal potential.

How Transportation Costs Can Impact School Budgets

School transportation costs eat a huge chunk of any schools budget. The cost of transporting kids to school needs to be reduced.

The Difficulties of Split Custody School Bus Routing

 

GPS Vehicle Tracking: Strengthening Trust While Reducing Costs

When concerned parents are waiting for the school bus, every passing second is a potential moment for panic.

Field Trip Planning Made Easier: Why Tracking Software is Essential

Most experts agree that taking students on field trips is a positive educational experience. A recent study cited by the National Education Foundation found that, regardless of a student’s socioeconomic status, gender, or ethnicity, students who take field trips benefit from higher grades, a higher graduation rate, and a greater chance of future success.

Unfortunately, many school districts are forced to cut back on field trips due to budgetary concerns. The good news is that today’s transportation management software makes field trips easier to prepare for while allowing you to make the most out of your district’s field trip budget.

How To Make Bus Routing Software Work For You

The greatest thing about bus management and routing these days is the ability to complete everything through technology and software. You don't have to worry about the mountains of paperwork that goes into tracking students, distances to different bus routes, making sure buses are on time, and a bunch of other responsibilities.

How to Use GPS Vehicle Tracking Systems for Efficient Fleet Management

The benefits of GPS vehicle tracking systems such as Zonar and Synovia go beyond simply ensuring the safety of your precious passengers. These are powerful tools which can revolutionize your fleet management, helping you optimize your system in ways that simply aren't possible with hand-collected data.

Strategies for Saving School Bus Energy

 

Cutting Costs With Bus Routing Software

It’s no secret that school districts across the country are having a difficult time balancing their budgets. Whenever a school district faces financial challenges, the transportation department is a likely target for cuts. Eliminating bus stops and changing routes often concerns parents and administrators. Fortunately, bus-routing software can help you to optimize your routes without compromising student safety.

GPS Vehicle Tracking System Enhances Safety and Cuts Costs

Pupil Transportation: Costs Versus Savings of Going Green With Propane

It’s no secret that school districts across North America are looking into alternative fuels for their pupil transportation, not only to minimize negative impact on the environment, but also to save money. While a majority of school buses are still powered by diesel, more and more districts are shifting to propane.

Fine Tune Your Transportation Services Using Vehicle Routing Software

In today's economy, every penny counts. With dwindling budgets, public schools are forced to cut corners wherever possible. This may include changing school schedules, to accommodate two tiers per bus, or finding ways to make a route more cost effective.

One way for the latter is vehicle routing software. With this little gem, many facets of the bus routes may be examined. It can include documenting driving behaviors or recording driving times. For instance:

School Districts Take Steps to Reduce Their Transportation Costs

With rising gas prices and decreasing school budgets, minimizing school  bus transportation costs has never been more beneficial to a school than now. Because of the great variability in how much you might get from one year to the next for transportation costs, you may end up taking money  from other school functions to help make up  the slack. Since this is inevitably barring new legislation, it is a good idea to try your best to optimize the school transportation costs, by employing a handful of practices:

Is Your Current Bus Route Planning Inefficient?

Each day, more than half of America’s K-12 students take the bus to school. In fact, the school bus industry is the largest form of mass transit in the U.S. School buses keep cars off the road and the environment cleaner. Making sure that school buses run efficiently strengthens their positive environmental impact while saving districts money.

Having An Electric School Bus Fleet Is Easier Than Many People Think

If your district is thinking about adding electric vehicles (EVs) to your school bus fleet, don't let outdated fears hold you back! Electric buses have come a long way in the last decade, from being impractical to being entirely capable of serving a school district's needs.

Congressional Representative Pushes for School Bus Only CDL

It's no secret that the school bus driver shortage is only getting worse.  Year after year, school districts are having more difficulty finding drivers, and it's becoming an increasing burden on district transportation managers. The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak has only made the situation worse, with many drivers deciding to retire, or move into other fields - especially if they feel like they aren't getting proper support from their district.

Reimagining the School Bus Ridership Experience

According to multiple studies, less than half of students who are eligible to ride the school bus are actually doing so. Low school bus ridership can actually be a problem for districts that are looking to maintain their state funding or keep a full fleet of school buses active.

Massachusetts Uses National Guard as School Bus Drivers

It seems like states are finally starting to get serious about helping school districts overcome the ongoing school bus driver shortage. Coming right after New York's announcement of programs aimed at recruiting more drivers, Massachusetts has taken things a step further. They're activating National Guard troops to become bus drivers for in-need districts.

School Bus Driver Training: De-Escalating Parent Disputes

Tensions in America are high right now, and it's spilling over into our schools. These days, it seems like the news is full of stories about conflicts between parents and school staff, including bus drivers. There had always been occasional reports of conflicts or fights between drivers and parents, but now we're seeing such reports all the time.

New York Launches School Bus Driver Outreach

In previous articles, we mentioned that it seemed like state intervention may be called for when dealing with the school bus driver shortage - and apparently, New York agrees. New York Governor Kathy Hochul recently announced a series of state-level actions intended to help alleviate the driver shortage across all of its districts.

What is New York doing? And what more could it or other states potentially do? Let's take a look.

School Bus Driver Strikes And Protests Becoming More Common

The ongoing shortage of school bus drivers may be hitting a breaking point. Schools were already struggling to keep enough drivers on-staff to fulfill their transportation obligations despite the disruption of COVID-19. Now, there's a new threat: school bus driver protests and strikes.

South Carolina School Bus Driver Shortages Lead to Long Wait

We all know that the school bus driver shortage is a problem and that it's not getting better. In some areas, it seems, things are getting much worse. Reports have come out about how driver shortages in South Carolina are causing excessive delays and a lot of stress among local residents.

Railroad Safety Tips for School Bus Drivers

Few bus accidents could be more devastating than being hit by a train - and it does happen. While train-related accidents are rare, there have been several in the past decade. This could easily be fatal to everyone on the bus if it happens, which is why it's important that school bus drivers regularly receive railroad safety refreshers.

What are the most important aspects of railroad safety to consider? Let's take a look.

Can Electric School Buses Benefit Low Income Communities?

In the ongoing push to move towards ecologically friendly bus fleets, electric school buses are rapidly gaining traction. Modern electric buses have overcome nearly all the problems that faced them a decade ago - they're now as powerful and robust as diesel buses and can have batteries with enough capacity to serve all but the largest of rural districts.

Tennessee School Districts Forbidden From Requiring School Bus Masking

It's distressing how basic public health measures fighting COVID-19 have become heavily politicized, but the trend continues.  Following in the footsteps of states like Texas and Florida, Tennessee's governor Bill Lee recently signed an executive order (PDF) forbidding school districts from requiring masks without allowing parental opt-out. This order covers all school-related activities, even school bus masking.

Electric School Buses: Maintaining Your Fleet

As school districts look to upgrade their aging diesel bus fleets to more modern, ecologically friendly options, electric school buses are becoming an increasingly popular option. Old problems with limited power and battery life are quickly being overcome. Modern electric buses are now an entirely viable option for most districts.

One of the benefits of electric buses is that their maintenance requirements are generally lower than those of diesel buses, but it's still good to know what your district is getting into. Here's a quick overview of the differences in maintenance procedures.

Benefits of Wi-Fi and 5G for School Buses

One eternal problem with school bus rides, particularly in larger districts, is how much time they can take out of a student's day. When many students are riding for an hour or more every day, that can seriously cut into their time for studying or other academic activities.

This is why on-bus Internet access has become a major topic of school bus technology. With a combination of 5G cell service and an onboard WiFi router, a bus can provide its students with plenty of bandwidth, and encourage them to spend more time studying or doing homework while on the bus.

Can Changing Bell Times Help the School Bus Driver Shortage?

The sad reality is that the bus driver shortage isn't going away - it's only getting worse. The COVID-19 outbreak spurred a lot of people to leave bus driving for other careers or retire if that was an option. One recent study showed that 80% of districts are struggling to fulfill all their bus routes.

So it's no wonder that districts are increasingly looking for creative solutions to the driver shortage. One option that's gaining traction is changing school bell times to allow for fewer buses to run more often. 

School Bus Wi-Fi: Round 2 of FCC Funding

There's good news for districts that are looking for ways to fund a school bus Wi-Fi upgrade program. Due to overwhelming popularity, the FCC has announced a second round of funding grants to help pay for onboard Internet services!

Earlier this year, the FCC made several billion available in grants for Wi-Fi upgrades, as well as other Internet-related hardware, as part of the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF). Demand was huge, and many schools weren't able to get the money they needed. Others missed the filing deadline or had other bureaucratic issues, brought about by the ongoing disruption of COVID-19 and its variants.

Back to School 2021 - Preparing for Uncertainty

Few semesters have ever been under such a cloud of uncertainty as back to school 2021 will be. In many places, this is the first time that regular school will happen in over a year, and a lot of people are still worried about it happening smoothly.

A lot of that uncertainty is going to revolve around your school bus transportation. With the risk of COVID-19 infections still a concern, especially the new Delta variant, everyone in your district - including parents, students, and staff - needs to know that your transportation system will be ready to do its job while keeping students safe.

Hiccups in Supply Chains Affect Student Bus Transportation

School Transportation News recently posted an in-depth article talking about new challenges facing the student bus transportation industry. The various economic upheavals of 2020, spearheaded by the COVID-19 outbreak, have disrupted supply chains around the world. This is affecting manufacturers in every industry, including those involved in the creation and maintenance of school buses.

California Hits the Road With 2 Propane School Buses

Despite all the economic hurdles of the last year, districts are still finding ways to upgrade their school busses to better, cleaner options. School Bus Fleet recently reported on a California district, Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District in Napa County, which received a state grant allowing them to purchase two propane-powered buses.

At this point, it's almost inarguable that diesel-powered buses need to go away. The questions are, how to make it happen, and which alt-fuel to switch to? Currently, the major contenders for eco-friendly school buses are either propane or electric.

COVID Student Safety Starts With School Buses

Is your district still doing everything possible to keep your school buses safe from COVID-19? Even though vaccination rates are rising, and infections are dropping, it's still a threat. Worse, new mutations like the Delta variant are creating new threats, and forms that transmit more easily than the original COVID-19.

Electric School Buses Linked to Environmental Justice

We recently came across a fascinating article on School Bus Fleet, interviewing Johana Vicente. Vicente is the national director of a socio-environmental activist group called Chispa, dedicated to looking at the impact of fossil fuels on people of color. They speak out against both the exploitative ways fossil fuels are obtained and processed, as well as how low-income minority communities are often disproportionately affected by pollution.

New York City Schools Move Away From Remote Learning

For the past year or more, during the COVID-19 outbreak, most schools have been relying on remote learning to supplement or replace in-class learning. However, as vaccination rates rise around the country, and overall infection and death rates fall, schools are beginning to look forward to resuming normal in-person classes.

Most recently, New York City (NYC) announced that it will end all remote learning for Fall 2021, and resume normal schooling. Since NYC was hit hard by COVID-19, this is a big sign that things truly are returning to normal.

Boosting School Bus Safety With Defensive Driver Training

Well-trained bus drivers are the foundation of school bus safety. It doesn't matter what kinds of buses you drive or the routes you create if you don't have drivers who are always putting passenger safety first in their thinking. That's why it's vital to occasionally put your drivers through refresher courses, such as defensive driving training.

These may feel like basic suggestions, but even good drivers can get lazy after too many years on the road. An occasional bit of re-training helps remind them of how to maintain school bus safety.

Locating Funding for Electric School Buses

Every year, more pressure is put on school districts to move away from older gasoline/diesel school buses, and to deploy electric vehicles (EVs) instead. EVs have become entirely viable for bus fleets while bringing numerous advantages. EVs require less maintenance, are cheaper to run, and produce effectively no pollution.

Virginia Bus Driver Wins Big Money

School Transportation News recently reported on a nice bit of local news: a 23-year veteran Virginia school bus driver who won $10,000 for her excellent service. Beyond simply being a great driver, she was constantly looking for ways to help her students and her community.

School Bus Contractors: CERTS Coronavirus Relief Grants Detailed

Near the end of 2020, Congress and President Trump passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which contained provisions for $2 billion in economic relief for transportation companies negatively impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.  These provisions are known as the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) grants. This was excellent news for school bus contractors, who have been suffering under the ongoing restrictions and lockdowns, along with schools being slow to reopen.

School Bus Safety: Optimizing Driver Views

When a bus stops and children are loading or unloading, you'd want to think the driver is in full control of the situation - but they aren't. Buses, by their nature, have massive blind spots which impact the driver's visibility. This is a school bus safety issue when the bus is stopped or moving, but it's a particular hazard when children are nearby or in those blind spots.

Disinfecting School Buses: Are There Long Term Effects?

When the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak hit, properly disinfecting school buses became a top priority for school districts. At a minimum, districts stepped up the use of disinfecting chemicals and products like hand sanitizer. Many even upgraded their buses, installing systems such as intense UV light systems or disinfectant sprayers which would facilitate easier cleaning.

Considering the Future of the Yellow School Bus

What's going to happen to the traditional yellow school bus in the years ahead?

Given how much the COVID-19 outbreak has shaken up industries and economies around the world, a lot of people are wondering what it means for the future of school bus transportation. Assuming that schools will eventually fully reopen and resume 'business as usual,' will there be any long term impacts on the transportation systems?

Addressing Driver Shortage: Reducing School Bus Routes

It's harder than ever for school districts to find enough drivers for their school bus routes. The driver shortage was a problem even before the COVID-19 outbreak, and now it's only gotten worse. An estimated 80% of schools are having trouble finding enough drivers, and that's a big problem when schools are legally mandated to provide transportation to their students.

School Bus Safety: Air Quality

It's been well-known for generations that pollution within cities is a problem, but it's only in recent years that we've started to realize just how bad the problem is. Pollution doesn't just poison the air and environment, but it can directly harm people as well. This has been dramatically illustrated by many recent studies which show a strong link between pollution and declining academic performance among schoolchildren.

Increase Your School Bus Drivers' Morale With Public Recognition!

There was a recent feature on STN about Tim Cribley, a Michigan school bus driver who was declared a “Bus Guardian Hero.” Cribley got a well-deserved moment in the sun. It was a chance for the school to highlight the great work he’d done for the district. 

So, why doesn’t this happen more often?

School Bus Transportation in 2021

These are chaotic times for school districts and school bus transportation managers. Between the ongoing driver shortage and all the disruption caused by COVID-19, it's easy to feel like things are getting a bit out of control.

Well, take heart, because you're not alone. Recently, HopSkipDrive conducted an extensive survey (PDF) of school districts across the country. The questions were centered on the problems they're facing, and what they consider to be the most pressing issues at the moment.

Operational Optimization: Planning Ahead

When school districts want to - or need to - reduce the costs of their transportation system, one of the best options is to optimize their bus routes. It's rare for a district to have perfect route optimization, and just about any updates they can make will result in cost savings down the road. In best cases, they may even be able to entirely eliminate one or more routes, drastically reducing costs as well as reducing the harm done by the ongoing school bus driver shortage.

Indiana Works to Improve School Bus Stop Safety

We recently came across a short article from School Transportation News discussing Indiana's plans to expand usage, penalties, and enforcement of stop-arm cameras on their school buses.

There's no doubt that illegal passing is one of the biggest threats to school bus safety, as well as the safety of its passengers. Children are most at risk when entering or leaving the bus, so it makes sense that this would be a focus. But are stop-arm cameras the best solution

Montana House Bills for School Bus Safety

How do we protect students from cars passing illegally, while they're entering or exiting the bus? This is probably one of the biggest questions in the field of school bus safety, and one that continues to be studied intently. For many states, the popular answer is to install stop-arm cameras, but there are other alternatives - and Montana is set to explore those alternatives.

Their plan could potentially be more effective than stop-arm cameras while costing less. 

School Bus Transportation: COVID-19 Relief Funding

If your school district is in need of school bus transportation upgrades to help you deal with COVID-19 or to otherwise upgrade your school, there's good news. Congress has passed several bills recently aimed at providing COVID-19 funding to schools, and there is currently a lot of money to be claimed.

In this article, we'll briefly go over what was passed, how much funding is available, and what it can be used for.

Pros and Cons of Full Day Kindergarten

For decades, the traditional wisdom said that young children should be 'eased into' full-time schooling. This meant having preschool and kindergarten programs that were only part-time. However, recently, there's been a growing call for a shift to full-day kindergarten - and it's bringing a lot of heated debate from both sides.

There's no simple answer to the question, but here is a quick rundown of the arguments on both sides.

Benefits of Educational Equity

Is simple equality enough to provide a good education, or should educational institutions be aiming for equity instead?

The concept of educational equity has been in circulation for decades and has been steadily gaining traction in schools and the larger teaching community. Simply put, the idea of educational equity means taking active measures to give every student in the classroom the best chance of success, overcoming barriers - such as racial discrimination or socioeconomic status - that might hold them back.

Benefits of Investing in a Student Technology Program

Students need to learn with technology! Schools have been discovering this since the first big push to put computers into classrooms, in the 1980s, and student technology programs continue to expand and grow to this day. Unfortunately, even if educators understand their importance, technology can often be a hard sell at a budgetary level. If you're trying to talk parents into approving a technology funding bill or property tax, for example, you'll need convincing arguments!

Creating A Fiscally Responsible School District Is Everyone's Business

Few school districts have ever struggled with having "too much" money, and budgets are tight most of the time. However, things are particularly bad now. With the coronavirus outbreak continuing to create challenges, schools are having to spend a lot of money on health and safety features - money that probably has to be taken away from other initiatives. This makes it absolutely critical that a district be fiscally responsible, and that is something that every district employee should participate in.

How can schools be more fiscally responsible? Here are some ideas.

Five Ways to Prepare Students for the Future

It's fairly well-known that the 'modern' school system as we know it in America came into being in the first half of the 20th Century - and there have been surprisingly few updates to its structure and content since. Specific subjects are periodically updated according to new findings, but on the whole, the focus of current education is still largely based on last-century issues. Can we really prepare students for the future when the school system lacks a curriculum focused on 21st century topics?

Benefits of Charter School Reform

Are charter schools a good way to create better outcomes for children in school? For a long time, many have said so. Privately owned charter schools, funded from the same coffers as public schools, were supposed to offer competition and alternatives for parents looking for the best learning environment for their children.

However, now, roughly 30 years after the beginning of the movement, charter schools are starting to lose their luster. Many are calling for charter school reform, or even their de-funding. It's a complicated issue, but let's take a look at some of the basic matters under debate.

Kentucky to Permit School Bus Stop Arm Camera

More than 20 states in the United States allow school districts to install stop-arm cameras on their buses - and Kentucky may be the next to join them. House Bill 189 recently passed the state House, and it seems likely to go on to become law in the near future.

Stop-arm cameras are a popular measure for increasing school bus safety, by penalizing drivers who illegally pass school buses while they are stopped. Children are endangered every time a driver ignores the stop sign, so cutting down on illegal passing is a priority for districts.  

Maryland Bill Considers School Bus Capacity

One major school bus safety issue that perhaps doesn't receive enough attention is the problem of overcrowding. When districts are low on buses or drivers, they may end up running their buses with more students onboard than is safe for the vehicle. This is definitely a problem, but it's a problem with complicated causes.

In response, the Maryland House of Reps recently passed a bill explicitly making it illegal to run overcrowded buses. While its creator touts the bill as "common sense," it doesn't seem to actually do much to combat the core problem.

Texas School Buses May Continue Requiring Masks

Texas recently made headlines for stepping down its COVID-19 mask requirements. Businesses around the lone star state are no longer mandated to enforce mask-wearing on their premises - but they are still allowed to voluntarily require masks, if they choose.

Electric School Buses: Myths Versus Facts

Electric school buses may be one of the most misunderstood types of alt-fuel buses.  In many ways, they're the safest and cleanest of all the ways you could power a bus, but there is a lot of misinformation out there. Some of the myths used to be true, and some are outright fabrications, but they all may hold districts back from investing in a viable alt-energy system.

Federal Legislation Seeks $1B in Funding for School Buses

If your school district is interested in upgrading to electric school buses, you may get some help in the next few years. The "Clean School Bus Act" has been re-introduced in the House Of Representatives, and would provide over $1 billion dollars in funding to help districts pay for clean-energy bus upgrades.

The bill was first introduced in 2019 by several Democrats in Congress, but due to political tensions at the time, it died in a Senate committee without much action. Now, it has been reintroduced and stands a much better chance of passing. Passage isn't a sure thing - and the government has a lot on its plate at the moment - but if it does pass it could be good news for districts hoping to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.

Helping Special Needs Students Adapt to COVID-19 Safety Requirements

Transporting special needs students always has some additional challenges, and that's especially true during the coronavirus pandemic. School bus drivers and transportation directors need to be making concerted efforts to help special needs children maintain safety protocols.

Every student's situation will be a little different, but we have some suggestions that may help in ensuring that proper safety procedures are followed by all students.

Making Social Distancing Work on a School Bus

If your school is maintaining in-person classes during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, your district should be doing everything possible to reduce the chances of disease transmission. This is a major challenge - especially on school buses! As a small enclosed space, school buses are perfect for spreading a disease that thrives through person-to-person contact.

The only good solution is to maintain social distancing rules, even on the bus. This won't be easy, but it's better than having a major outbreak at your school. Fortunately, we have a few tips to make this task a bit easier.

Reducing the Costs of School Bus Transportation

There's no doubt that maintaining and running a school bus fleet is one of the most expensive aspects of school budgeting. It's often the 2nd or 3rd largest line item in many school budgets. Buses are costly to run and maintain but are absolutely required in every district.

This makes it vital that districts do everything they can to keep bus transportation costs low - especially now that the coronavirus is creating new budget strains. Here are a few tips on lowering your fleet costs.

Encouraging Loyalty in School Bus Drivers

Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, schools around the nation were struggling to find enough school bus drivers to keep all their routes running. The coronavirus only made things worse. It's become harder than ever for schools to find and keep drivers, particularly when many drivers in high-risk groups are unwilling to endanger themselves.

To keep your school district running, you need to be doing everything possible to maintain loyalty among your drivers. Once someone is on the payroll, you need to hang onto them. Here are some suggestions.

K-12 Relief Funds: School Bus Ventilation Systems

Shortly before leaving office, President Donald Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 into law. Part of this law includes over $54 billion in funding grants to help both public and charter schools respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Safely Disinfecting School Buses

For as long as the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak lasts, it's going to be absolutely vital to keep your school buses clean and sanitized. Buses will always be a high-risk area for transmission, so they call for high levels of diligence. Parents need to feel safe when putting their children on your buses!

Here are some important tips to help ensure your buses are as sanitary as possible for every trip

Bus Tracking Apps: Anticipating Parental Needs

If your district already utilizes tracking devices to plot your bus's location in real-time, it might be time to open up that service to more people in your community! Schools around the nation are beginning to offer smartphone apps to parents, allowing them to see the location of their child's bus while it's on route.

The value of this is obvious. Many parents are balancing tight schedules and can plan their days more efficiently if they know the bus is running on time. This can be great for parents - if you pick an app with the right features!

School Bus Industry: Front-line Heroes

 We recently saw a wonderful article from School Transportation News (STN) highlighting some of the most extraordinary things done by school bus drivers in the past year.  The COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak challenged service workers around the world to step up, but few outside of the healthcare industry have done more than bus drivers.

Propane Autogas Eases Back-to-School Challenges

Of all the back-to-school challenges facing school districts in 2020, the problem of successfully busing students may be one of the most pressing. By law, every district must provide transportation for any student that needs it - but schools only have so many buses, and safe social distancing during an outbreak means those buses should only be 1/6 to 1/4 full. Otherwise, the students are so close that they could transmit the coronavirus simply by breathing at each other.

School Buses Deliver Meals to Virtual Learners

If your school is closed due to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak or only operating at a reduced capacity, it may feel like you're letting your community down. Parents rely on functioning schools for everything from childcare to meal preparation, and in these challenging times, it can be difficult to know how to best help out. 

While there are no easy answers here, many schools have found a way to reduce the burden on parents who can't send their kids to school - using school buses to deliver lunches to low-income families.

National School Bus Safety Week Includes Poster Contest, Public Outreach

During times of crisis, it's more important than ever to reach out to the public and assure them that their schools - and their school transportation systems - are safe. Fortunately, despite the chaos, the American School Bus Council (ASBC) was able to carry off its annual National School Bus Safety Week outreach program without a hitch.

Training School Bus Drivers for Worst-Case Scenarios

No one enjoys contemplating the worst things that can go wrong, but when students' lives are on the line, it's important to consider as many scenarios as possible. That's why it's so important to supplement your regular school bus driver training with special lessons focusing on disasters, medical emergencies, criminal activity, and other low-probability/high-risk events that might potentially happen on the road.

There's no definitive list of everything which could go wrong, of course, but we have some suggestions for elements to add to your school bus driver training program.

Leveraging School Bus Technologies To Support Parents During The Coronavirus Outbreak

It's hard to even list all the ways that the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak is affecting communities across America. Many of these problems center on schools and school districts. On one hand, the rational response to a disease outbreak is to limit in-person school sessions, reducing disease exposure. On the other hand, many parents rely on schooling for the services it provides, including reduced-price lunches, and providing care for students while the parents are at work.

How Student Transportation Is Changing From COVID-19 According To The Experts

2020 was a year of crisis for many industries, and that certainly includes the student transportation industry. Schools across the nation were completely unprepared for the pandemic, leading to them having to make many blind leaps into policy changes or new technologies while looking for ways to keep students safe.

How is this affecting the industry, and what changes are likely to continue into the future? This interesting series of interviews with student transportation industry leaders from School Bus Fleet has a lot of ideas. Here are some of the key takeaways we got from it.

School Districts Try out Lighted Signs on School Buses

School bus safety is one of the foremost concerns for any school transportation program - and there is no shortage of companies trying to sell you upgrades in the name of safety. Sorting through them in terms of cost vs benefit can be difficult, particularly with so many high-tech solutions entering the market.

But, what if one of the best school bus safety measures is also among the cheapest and easiest to implement? Many districts are coming to believe that simply adding more lights to their buses can keep students safe - and there's plenty of reason to believe that's the case.

Four Big Challenges School Bus Drivers Face

Being a bus driver is never easy, but the job has become particularly difficult with the COVID-19 coronavirus still threatening the country. On top of their other responsibilities, bus drivers are now expected to do much of the heavy lifting in protecting students' health while onboard their buses.

Is your district doing everything they can to support your drivers? Better policies and updated school bus driver training can make their lives easier while increasing safety for the students. 

Student Transporters Discuss Meeting Challenges

Contrary to the hopes of many, there's no sign that the COVID-19 coronavirus is going away any time soon. In fact, new infections across America are at an all-time high. This means that it's vital for school districts and student transportation directors to do everything they can to protect students and staff from infection while riding on school buses.

Fortunately, with some districts now having been back in operation for two months or more, we're seeing some common strategies involved. Based on a recent series of STN interviews, we've noticed some responses and suggestions that appear repeatedly. These are some of the most common and apparently effective steps that any district could take.

School Bus Alternatives for Special Needs Students

While the specifics vary from state to state, school districts are universally required to provide transportation to and from school for every student. Most students are simply transported on standard school buses, but there are exceptions - particularly where special needs students are concerned.

Keeping Your School Buses Clean And Hygienic During The Coronavirus Outbreak

How has your district updated school bus cleaning policies to adapt to the coronavirus outbreak?

Providing transportation to students is a must, even during a pandemic, but school buses create a significant new potential source of infection. Any student - or other riders - could theoretically be infected and contagious at any time, even if they do not yet show symptoms of COVID-19. If they are infectious, then their presence on the bus will leave plenty of contaminants behind - on the seats, the windows, the doors, the floors, even in the air within the bus.

Protecting Your School Bus Drivers As Schools Reopen

As schools look to reopen in Fall 2020 despite the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, one of the biggest challenges will be in successfully adapting their student bus transportation system. When crafting safety plans, it's vital that one group not go overlooked: your bus drivers.

Products That Fight Germs on Your School Buses

In the year of the coronavirus - and with most researchers suggesting it will continue to be a threat in 2021 - school bus safety measures now largely revolve around finding ways to prevent spread of the disease. Most schools are doing this with traditional disinfecting products like sanitary wipes and sprays, but this is a slow and time-consuming process that can still miss a lot of contaminated areas.

Barrier Installation Approved for School Buses

How do you maintain school bus safety, when there's a pandemic going on? Districts around the country are wrestling with how to limit the spread of COVID-19 within their buses, something which is no easy task. One proposal was to install plexiglass barriers within the bus, similar to cough guards at restaurants and checkout lines, to limit disease spread. However, there were questions as to whether this could be done legally and safely.

Safeguarding Students Getting on and off the School Bus

School buses are among the safest forms of transportation ever created, but there are still times during a bus's route that the students may be in danger - and no situation is more dangerous than when students are getting on or off the bus. One of the most critical elements of school bus safety is protecting students when they are exposed to traffic.

Drastic Changes for Back-to-School 2020

For better or worse, back-to-school 2020 is here around the country, despite the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.  Every district has their own solutions for how to continue providing education despite the coronavirus, but one thing is indisputable: drastic changes have to be made to the US school system, and those changes are likely to stay in place for at least the entire 2020-21 year.

Virginia School District Adds Safety Tech to School Buses

If you want a model for how technology can be used to improve school bus safety, you could easily look to Chesapeake Public School District in Chesapeake, VA.  As highlighted in a recent School Bus Fleet article, the district has made a nearly unprecedented deal with BusPatrol, Inc, to implement top-to-bottom upgrades to their bus fleet.

Few districts will manage to arrange such an expansive upgrade deal all at once, but looking at the tech they will be implementing can point towards a strong long-term school bus safety upgrade path for districts on a budget.

Does Your School Bus Safety Plan Overlook Critical Dangers?

When was the last time you ran a tornado drill for a school bus?

It's a simple question, but in our experience, a lot of districts get uncomfortable when you ask it. Now, if you can answer "recently!" then that's great - but too many districts tend to focus their disaster preparedness almost entirely on the school itself. This leaves a critical school bus safety gap, if the bus is ever caught in a weather disaster or other major unpredictable event.

It's impossible to foresee every eventuality, but most districts could still implement some new safety measures and help improve student safety - and usually at a low cost.

Eight Tips for Recruiting School Bus Drivers

We keep waiting for the bus driver shortage to end, but it doesn't. For years now, schools have been struggling to find enough school bus drivers to keep all their routes running, and still the problem persists. According to recent studies, 24% of districts describe their shortage to be "severe" or "desperate," and another 38% report "moderate" staffing problems. Only around 10% claim to have no driver staffing issues at all.

In short, districts will have to continue to hustle if they're going to find new drivers, and keep trying new tactics. Here are some more things to try!

Indiana School Bus District Adds School Bus Wifi

New innovations in school bus technology are improving student management and helping to create new learning opportunities - innovations like putting WiFi access points onto school buses. These access points run off of cellular connections, and can be tightly managed to regulate what students are allowed to access, making them a solid bus upgrade for numerous reasons.

Alternative Fuel Tax Credits Extended Until Fall 2020

The last few years have been rocky for the Alternative Fuel Tax Credits introduced during the Obama administration. These tax credits were intended to spur the adoption of alternative vehicle fuel sources, including alternative school bus fuels, as well as also encouraging the construction of alt-fuel refill stations.  

The credits were originally scheduled to end in 2017 but received short-term extensions to keep them going. This has happened several times since and, fortunately, another extension recently passed and was signed into law. So, the credits will now remain active until Aug 11, 2020, giving school districts and other operations more time to submit claims from 2018-19.

What Happens When School Bus Drivers Are Sick?

From the perspective of a district transportation manager, the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak came at one of the worst possible times. No time is good for an epidemic, but with schools already hurting from the shortage of school bus drivers, even minor disruptions to the workforce can cause major problems.  

So what can a school do to reduce the chances of illness? Or, if their school bus drivers do get sick, what alternatives could they set up? There are not many easy answers here, but districts still need to look into what they can do.

School Bus Routing: Adding More Bus Stops

Schools reopening this fall are almost certainly going to be making significant changes to their buses and routing, in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus. If these changes are going to involve adding new bus stops - such as to prevent too many students from congregating at the same stop - school bus safety must be given a high priority! New stops should be chosen based on how safe they will be for students to utilize when getting on and off the bus.

School Bus Driver Shortages in the Age of COVID-19

The problem of finding enough school bus drivers to keep districts' bus routes running is nothing new. Districts have been facing a bus driver shortage for years, without any real sign of the situation getting better. Now, however, there's a new factor at play: the COVID-19 coronavirus.

National Academies Advises Full-Time Reopening of Schools

Around the nation, one of the most pressing questions being asked over and over is "Should we be reopening schools in the fall?" Every district in America is currently faced with what seems like an impossible choice: weighing the needs of children to be educated against the chances of contracting the COVID-19 coronavirus.

School Bus Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic

For school districts planning on reopening in the fall, the next few weeks will be spent planning thoroughly on how to reduce the risks of disease spread. COVID-19 is still active throughout North America, so children need to be kept as safe as possible.  

Five Tips for Restarting School Bus Operations Here...

Will your school district be reopening this fall, in the wake of the coronavirus? If so, one of the biggest challenges you're likely to face is the problem of running your school bus transportation system in a way that minimizes the chances of disease transmission.  

COVID-19 Impacts on the School Bus Industry

There has never been a more uncertain time for the school bus industry, at least in recent memory. The outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus has disrupted schools, businesses, and transportation across North America, and there are no signs of that disruption slowing much in the near future.

CDC Considerations for Student COVID-19 Testing

What do you do if you suspect a student coming to school in the fall has the COVID-19 coronavirus or may have been exposed to it? Districts across America are asking this question. Fortunately, they have some guidance. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently released a series of recommendations on how to handle these situations.

How to Setup Social Distancing on a School Bus

Are you going to be able to maintain social distancing on your school buses? If not, your entire district will be at risk of COVID-19 outbreaks. Any districts re-opening in the fall must take all possible precautions to maintain school bus safety, and minimize the chances of disease spread.

This will not be easy, but we have suggestions culled from district recommendations from around the country to help make it possible.

New York City School Buses to Go Electric

For fans of electric school buses and other electric vehicle initiatives, there's big news to celebrate coming out of New York City. Recently, the mayor of NYC, Bill De Blasio, signed an executive order which mandates that all NYC government fleet vehicles be electric by 2040 - and that includes the school bus fleets.

Is CBD Oil Okay for School Bus Drivers?

With the rising costs of health care in the country, more and more people are turning to non-prescription products in an attempt to cure their various ailments.  Among various alternatives, the use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil is growing, due to its seeming efficacy at treating a variety of mental- and pain-related problems.

Six School Bus Winter Maintenance Tips

Is your district giving enough support to your school bus maintenance crews during the winter? Proper bus maintenance should always be a priority, but it's absolutely vital during the winter. Even minor breakdowns or on-road incidents become far more dangerous when the roads are icy and the temperatures are below freezing.

Be sure your maintenance crews are doing everything they can to ensure your buses are safe in the winter!

School Bus Safety Plans: What Might Be Missing?

How robust is your school bus safety plan?

Of course, any school district will have safety plans in place for their buses and transportation system. However, these plans are rarely complete. Arguably, they cannot be - unexpected situations are always possible. Still, there are certain blind spots that we tend to see going unaddressed, particularly when the danger doesn't require the bus to be underway.

School Bus Drivers: Combating Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a serious problem on America's roads.  According to compiled statistics, nine people die every day due to a distracted driver, while hundreds more are injured. Distracted driving can happen almost anywhere, at any time, to anyone - including your school bus drivers.

School Bus Safety Tips for Icy, Snowy Weather

School bus safety is critical at all times of the year, but it's particularly crucial during the winter months. Snowy weather and icy roads present some of the biggest dangers a bus and its passengers can face, yet your drivers will be called on to drive in inclement weather day after day.

If you're looking for new ideas to help make these trips even safer, we've got plenty of tips.

Just How Serious Is the School Bus Driver Shortage?

For years, the education sector has been plagued by a school bus driver shortage, and there's no end yet in sight. All signs and surveys point towards districts continuing to struggle to find sufficient drivers to cover their routes. That's causing continuing problems within the district administration, as well as for huge numbers of parents and students trying to find stable transportation options.

Four Tips for Improving Student Bus Transportation in 2020

How are you going to improve your student bus transportation system in 2020 and beyond? The previous decade has seen huge shifts in how schools handle their buses, as well as student safety. Now is the perfect time to start looking ahead, and planning how you'll improve your bus system in the next decade to come!

Texas Department of Public Safety Addresses Overcrowded School Buses

Here's a school bus safety violation that shouldn't happen, yet it does with surprising frequency: running buses that are overcrowded. In Texas, for example, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) was forced to step in and issue public advisories, due to receiving too many complaints of buses running with too many children onboard.

School Bus Seat Belts: Implementation Strategies

Going into 2020, there are now nine states that openly mandate school bus seat belts within their school districts, and two others offering grants or other incentives.  Numerous other states are debating the issue. While not truly decided yet, it seems that the seat belt discussion has reached a tipping point.

Ohio School Bus Safety Act Seeks Fines, Penalties, and Stop Arm Cameras

Without a doubt, one of the most serious threats to school bus safety is the problem of other drivers ignoring the stop arm. Every time a car blows by the stop-arm sign, they endanger students who are getting on and off the bus, with injuries or deaths occurring every year. Statistics show that there are tens of thousands of such violations every day, and each has the potential to be deadly.  

So, states are seeking solutions, passing laws to try to curb this rampant issue. Ohio has become the latest, with a bill simply called the School Bus Safety Act (SB-134). However, its impact could be far-ranging across the state, and potentially a model for legislation to come - if it passes. 

Better School Bus Crash Reporting Procedures Can Make A Difficult Time Much Easier

While school buses are overwhelmingly safe for passengers, accidents do happen.  No district or driver likes to think about the possibility of being in an accident, even a non-fatal one. However, when thousands of collisions involving a school bus happen every year, odds are that it will happen to many drivers during their career.

The actions of the driver and district immediately following the accident are crucial, because they will set the tone for the investigation that follows. Poor school bus crash reporting policies can increase the likelihood of lawsuits, or criminal prosecution, while good reporting policies can help protect everyone involved.

Mississippi Early Replacement School Bus Program Aided by EPA Funding

Passed in 2010, the Diesel Emissions Reductions Act (DERA) was a forward-looking piece of US legislation aimed at reducing pollution on the nation's streets and highways. At its heart, it is a loan and grant program, authorizing the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to disburse millions of dollars in funds to states, or individual organizations, for the purpose of upgrading fleets away from unclean diesel engines.

Cleveland Students Petition for School Bus Seatbelts

At this point, it's become commonplace to hear stories of cities and districts deciding to budget for school bus seat belts - but here's a story with a twist. The city council of Beachwood City, OH, a suburb of Cleveland, recently purchased two new belt-equipped buses, along with retrofits of their existing buses, to the tune of $250,000. They were, in fact, the first district in Ohio to do so.

Why?  Because the children asked for it!

Senator Schumer Seeks School Bus Stop Arm Camera Report

Right now, few issues are as contentious in the school bus industry than the topic of school bus stop-arm cameras. The issue of motorists illegally passing stopped buses is undoubtedly a major problem, with millions of violations across the country every school year. However, whether stop-arm cameras are the right solution to this problem is more contentious.

Senator Charles "Chuck" Schumer (D-NY) is concerned about the issue, and ultimately believes it should become a federal matter - that the federal government should pass blanket laws allowing school bus stop-arm cameras, rather than leaving it to the states. He made this clear in a recent press release, where he called upon the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to release more data on the topic.

Tennessee School Bus Driver Uses Phone Behind the Wheel

When a parent allows their child to ride a bus, there's a lot of trust involved. They need to believe that the driver is going to protect the students, and consider school bus safety to be their top priority. Unfortunately, this is not always the case - as we see in a recent incident in which a Tennessee driver was caught texting-and-driving multiple days in a row.

Tough polices have already ensured that the driver is no longer behind the wheel, but it suggests a problem that still has yet to be fully solved.

Virginia Funds Electric School Bus Initiative

In the field of alt-energy school bus designs, electric school buses have lagged behind many of the competitors such as propane or natural gas. Until recently, electric buses had been seen as too under-powered and too short-ranged to be effective as student transport, but now multiple viable models have begun to enter the market.

Now, Virginia has become one of the first states to make a significant push towards the adoption of electric buses within their borders with a pledge of $20 million in funding - and it's with the indirect help of Volkswagen.

InterMotive Vehicle Controls Announces Seatbelt Warning System

Usage of school bus seat belts is growing across the country, with six states already mandating their installation, and several others contemplating similar laws. Along with helping to keep children safe during accidents, there is also growing evidence that belts can significantly improve student behavior any time they ride. This makes a very compelling argument for belts on buses.

However, there has been one major sticking point for many: how is the bus driver supposed to police usage of the belts, especially once the route has begun? An interesting new technology from the company Intermotive called Safe-T-Seat wants to make it easier.

Improve School Bus Safety By Taking Proactive Measures Against Stop Arm Violators

 There are numerous threats to school bus safety any time a bus is on the road, but it's hard to argue against stop arm violators being the biggest threat. Every time a motorist ignores a stop arm, student lives are put at risk. This is not an uncommon occurrence: According to multiple governmental surveys, stop arm violations occur millions of times per year. 

Training School Bus Drivers in Positive Behavior Management Improves Discipline

School bus drivers have to do several jobs at once while on the road, and one of the most important is maintaining discipline among the passengers onboard. Keeping students quiet and well-behaved is a major safety issue, and can help contribute to safe driving as well. The question is, how? 

California Energy Commission Approves Funding for Over 200 Electric School Buses

Slowly but surely, states and districts across the country are moving away from diesel and towards alternative fuel sources. For years, it seemed like the best choices were either compressed natural gas (CNG) or propane - but these are still forms of fossil fuels, and therefore only a mild improvement over gasoline or diesel. Now, it seems like electric school buses are finally coming to be seen as a possibility.

Four Tips for Stop Arm Camera Success

School districts around the nation are exploring use of stop arm cameras as a way to deter unsafe driving near their buses. However, a stop arm camera by itself won't stop bad drivers. BusBoss has some tips to help ensure the success of your camera initiative.

Texas District Implements Paid School Bus Driver Training

Across the country, one of the biggest challenges facing district transportation directors is simply one of staffing. The nationwide school bus driver shortage continues in full swing, with the majority of districts reporting that they lack all the drivers they want. 

However, School Transportation News is now reporting on a recruitment plan pioneered by Bryan ISD in Texas which is simple, straightforward and - so far - successful: Paying new workers for school bus driver training aimed at getting their Commercial Driver's License (CDL). 

The Pros and Cons of Electric School Buses

The push to embrace alt-fuels in school bus fleets continues unabated, complete with both the Federal government, and many states, offering incentives to move away from gas or diesel. Previously, the conversation about alt-fuel buses mainly revolved around propane vs Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), while electric school buses rarely received much interest.

However, this is starting to change. While, in the past, electric buses were generally considered to be too under-powered to be viable, new generations of electric engines have arrived which are capable of generating more than enough horsepower. Likewise, every year sees increases in battery capacity, allowing electric buses to run all but the largest of routes.

Iowa Joins 4 Other States in Requiring School Bus Seatbelts

For decades, arguments have raged over whether or not school bus seat belts were a good idea. The official stance was that school buses were already so safe that the additional protection brought by belts would be minimal, or even cause as many problems as solved. However, in recent years, this conventional wisdom has come under intense scrutiny, with experiments at various scales being conducted.

Most of them point towards school bus seat belts being a good idea after all.

School Bus Driver Training: Handling Disputes With Parents

Recently, social media was buzzing when a video went viral of a Denver parent forcing her way onto a stopped school bus, and getting into a physical altercation with the bus staff that ultimately required police to break up. This is definitely a worst-case scenario when it comes to problematic parent interactions, but it does illustrate the need for school bus driver training to cover disputes with parents.

School Bus Fleet: Proper Tire Choice & Maintenance

Are the tires on your school bus fleet helping or harming your efforts to run a safe, cost-effective bus system? Despite seeming like a relatively minor choice, the kind of tires on your buses can have a lot of impact on both safety and performance. Likewise, proper care and maintenance of the tires can help keep safety standards high, while reducing long-term costs.

Here are a few tips we've picked up over the years.

National Survey Shares Challenges of School Bus Safety

One difficulty when talking about school transportation management, and school bus safety, is getting a handle on the big picture. Discussions of district transportation systems are often filled with anecdotal evidence, relatively few studies trying to look at the situation on a nationwide basis. That's why it was so refreshing to see the recent study conducted by Transportation Services Co. (TSC).

The study was distributed to over 1,600 districts around the country, and over 300 were returned - a very high sample size, for a voluntary survey like this. However, that allowed TSC to construct a detailed picture of the challenges facing school bus safety programs.

Here are some of the more interesting findings.

Five Ways a School Bus Tracking App Can Help in an Emergency

Whenever the news reports on a major incident involving a school bus, it's hard not to think "What if that happened to us?" News of a bus emergency is excellent for reflecting on the district's own training and response policies. Would the bus driver know how to handle the situation on their own? How long would it even take for the transportation office to know there was a problem at all?

School Bus Fleet: Air Conditioning Considerations

Do all the vehicles in your school bus fleet include air conditioning? In many districts, this is already the case - yet there are still plenty of districts playing catch-up. A/C comes standard on most new buses, but that doesn't help smaller or lower-income districts who can't afford to replace their fleet. For those districts, retrofitting is an option. 

Retrofitting can allow them to add A/C to existing buses - if they can navigate the maze of choices available. Here are a few of the most important factors to look at.

Who Is Responsible for School Bus Safety?

Who is responsible for school bus safety in a district? On the balance, the only rational answer to the question is "everyone." Whenever some sort of safety incident occurs, there can be a lot of finger-pointing - but at the end of the day, protecting children should be everyone's business. It's not something that can be partitioned.

Five More Ways To Reduce Fuel Costs While Your Buses Are On The Road

At this point, most school districts are at least looking at green school buses for their fleet. The problem, of course, is that green school buses are expensive, whether you're going the upgrade route or to entirely replace your older buses. Not every district is in a position to go green, at least not yet.

However, there are still ways you can cut your fuel costs. There are a number of very effective ways that your on-road operational costs can be reduced, and your fuel costs along with. Here are a few ideas.

Washington School District Buys Electric School Bus

 

Just a few years ago, electric school buses were thought to be a pie-in-the-sky concept. There were numerous technical challenges to overcome, with the biggest issue being the matter of pure power. Electrical engines just weren't able to produce enough horsepower to get a bus moving at safe speeds.

Now, things are starting to change. Blue Bird buses has introduced a line of electric school buses that are turning heads - and opening up checkbooks. The latest school district to embrace electric buses is Franklin Pierce School District (FPSD) in Washington. Does their new purchase indicate a shift in attitudes?

PBS Documentary Asks Questions About School Bus Safety

When it comes to school bus safety, there is probably no more divisive issue than the question of whether seat belts should be mandated for school buses. After all, belts have been required in other pedestrian vehicles like cars and pickups for fifty years - but they have never been mandated in school buses. Should they be?

This is the question discussed in a new documentary funded by Montana's Public Broadcasting System, called "Safe Enough?" The new hour-long film is creating quite a stir and has already begun to win regional awards. Many are already beginning to wonder if it will tilt the conversation in favor of mandated seat belts.

School Bus Drivers: Understanding Miranda's Law

In May 2018, a truly tragic school bus accident occurred in New Jersey. A bus traveling on I-80 apparently overshot its intended exit, causing the driver to attempt to pull a massive U-turn across multiple lanes. This led to a direct side-on collision from a garbage truck as the bus drove perpendicular to traffic, leading to the deaths of both a student, Miranda Vargas, as well as a teacher.

NTSB Calls for School Bus Fire Suppression Systems

In December of 2017, a truly horrific school bus accident occurred in Oakland, Iowa. A fire broke out in the engine compartment of a bus, sending dangerous fumes into the bus interior, and ultimately taking the lives of both the driver and a 16-year-old student.

After more than a year of investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a series of recommendations to improve school bus safety - and these are raising some eyebrows across the education sector. Their own report had 10 separate recommendations, but let's focus on the three most impactful.

DERA School Bus Rebates Program Applications Accepted

 

School Bus Driver Training: Working With Special Needs Students

Last month, a potentially very dangerous mistake occurred in Waterloo, Iowa: A school bus driver mistakenly dropped off an autistic girl at the wrong location. Unsupervised, she wandered more than a mile away and was found at a local Target. Fortunately, she was entirely unharmed.

According to the story, this happened due to multiple failures:

Study Claims School Bus Emissions Influence Learning

There is ample evidence that the sort of emissions and pollution created by gasoline and diesel vehicles - like school buses - can cause significant health problems among people exposed to the emissions. What has been harder to demonstrate is whether or not those health problems include mental health as well.

School Bus Safety Legislation Considered by Congress

On May 17, 2018, a horrific collision occurred between a school bus and a dump truck on a New Jersey highway. It left two dead, including 10-year-old Miranda Vargas, as well as injuring everyone on the bus as well as the driver of the dump truck. Video footage showed the driver of the school bus had driven erratically, taking the bus across lanes at such an extreme angle that it was nearly perpendicular to the road. This is what caused the dump truck to hit it.

Florida School Bus Drivers Now Required to Have First Aid Training

Any time a child dies on-board a school bus, it's a tragedy - but it's particularly tragic when the death would have been preventable. That is the case in the death of Terissa Gautney on Feb 28, 2018, on a school bus in Bartow, Florida. Terissa was a special needs student with medical issues, who experienced a silent seizure followed by respiratory distress.

School District Settles After Biracial Student Dragged by School Bus

Most of the time, when a bus driver does something that endangers students, it's due to poor judgement. Occasionally, however, it can be malicious - as we saw earlier this year in Farmington, Utah. In a deeply disturbing incident, a 14-year-old biracial child was dragged by the bus for approximately 175 feet, after the 78-year-old driver closed the door on his backpack, trapping him outside.

Improving Route Optimization: Review and Insights

Maintaining a school bus fleet is one of the single most costly items in a district's budget, but it's one which is absolutely necessary. Schools must run buses and must provide transportation to any families who ask for it. This places a big burden on schools; a burden which is only growing heavier as districts struggle to find enough bus drivers for their routes.

School Bus Driver Shortage: Indiana District Turns to Teachers

School districts around the nation continue to suffer from the school bus driver shortage, with no relief in sight. It may even be getting worse. In a recent online poll of School Transportation News readers, an astounding eighty-four percent of districts reported that they were short of bus drivers.

Retraining School Bus Drivers: Four Tips

All school bus drivers will spend plenty of time in training sessions throughout their career, with much of it mandated by local or state laws. However, sometimes you may have one or more drivers who need more intensive retraining to get them back on track. This can be a tricky proposition because retraining carries a stigma, and can easily be seen as punitive or threatening.

In other situations, that might not be so much of a problem - but with the school bus driver shortage still a major issue, you really need to retain the drivers you have! As such, it's important to conduct your retraining sessions in ways that maximize their potential to improve driver performance, without causing any new problems.

Maine Passes School Bus Stop Arm Camera Bill

On June 17, 2019, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed Senate Bill 166 into law - fully legalizing the use of school bus stop arm cameras across the state. As with similar laws in other states, these cameras can be used to identify and penalize motorists who disregard the stop arm, endangering children with illegal passing maneuvers. 

Maine is the 19th state to pass such a measure. Combined with the six states who leave it up to the districts, fully half the states of the union now allow for stop arm cameras in some form. However, controversy still swirls around these laws. Will SB166 actually reduce illegal passing near school buses... or is it merely monetizing the endangerment of children?

Are School Buses Safe Enough?

Concerns about school bus safety are frequently a matter of intense discussion, particularly in the wake of a notable accident involving a school bus on the road. Everyone talks about wanting to make school buses safer, and understandably enough. Every child hurt or killed in a school bus accident is a tragedy.

Yet... the fact is that school buses are already incredibly safe. They have a fatalities-to-riders ratio which is so low that it genuinely becomes reasonable to question whether it can be reliably pushed much lower.

5 Reasons You Need a School Bus Tracking App

How much oversight do you have over your buses, while they're on the road? If one suddenly came to an unexpected stop or deviated from its route without warning, how long would it take you to know?

For too many districts, the answer would be "a long time." Without being able to directly track buses on their routes, they're left with little way of overseeing bus's progress aside from relying on radio reports. And if the bus driver is unable -or unwilling- to radio in, they're basically in the dark. 

Atlanta-Area School Districts to Benefit From Propane Bus Grant

The push to move school bus fleets away from traditional gasoline and diesel is stronger than ever, and it's being championed by many major groups - including the Environmental Protection Agency. As part of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA), the EPA makes millions of dollars available to school districts which need assistance in moving away from diesel, and towards more ecologically-friendly alternatives.

How School Bus Drivers Can Encourage Reading And Studying On The Route

Like many people, we were charmed by the recent Motherly article making the rounds about an Arkansas bus driver encouraging reading on her bus. If you missed it, a bus driver and special ed teacher named Julie Callison keeps a bucket full of books on her bus - encouraging students to take a few whenever they get on board. It was such a small thing, but it reminded us how school bus drivers can be educators as well.

School Bus Drivers Must Constantly Adapt to Changing Weather

While politicians may still argue over the impact of global climate change, few people on the ground still seriously doubt that climate change is real - and it's causing a lot of unpredictable weather. School districts and school bus drivers need to be prepared to deal with weather that can shift rapidly and have ways of dealing with the sudden appearance of dangerous storms.

3 School Bus Bills Signed by New Jersey Governor

In May 2018, New Jersey suffered a truly terrible school bus transportation accident. A school bus on a field trip collided with a dump truck, resulting in the deaths of a student and a twenty-year veteran teacher, as well as putting 43 others in the hospital.  Ultimately, it was determined the bus driver was the one at fault. Video showed him taking the bus across three lanes after missing an off-ramp, in an apparent attempt to use the official-use-only highway turnaround. In the process, he cut off a loaded-down dump truck which had no chance of stopping, causing the fatal crash.

School Bus Passing Legislation Amended in Georgia

In general, school bus safety laws across the nation have been increasingly strict and concerned with protecting child riders from other motorists - except for one strange anomaly last year. In July 2018, the state of Georgia amended its school bus passing laws in a way which seemingly increased the situations under which motorists were allowed to ignore a school bus stop arm, with wording that many criticized as being unclear.  

How Would Your School Bus Drivers Respond If A Fire Broke Out?

On January 31, 2019, a driver in Tamarac, Florida, had to deal with one of the nightmare scenarios most school bus drivers hope they never have to handle - a fire onboard the bus. For reasons still under investigation, black smoke started coming out of the engine compartment, followed shortly by an intense fire that destroyed most of the bus's front end.

School Bus Transportation: Plans for Volkswagen Funding

 

In 2015, it was revealed that German car maker Volkswagen - along with all their associated subsidiaries - had been engaging in widespread fraud to cheat results of emissions testing on many of their vehicles. Ultimately, VW had been cheating going back to roughly 2008, releasing millions of cars and other vehicles that were in violation of US environmental laws.

School Bus Safety: Preventing Onboard Fires

There are many aspects of school bus safety that a district transportation manager must oversee, but one of the most critical is implementing measures to prevent onboard fires. Fires on school buses are more common than people realize. In fact, the DOT estimates that one or two fires happen every school day.  Fortunately, most of these happen when students aren't onboard, but tragedies do occasionally happen. On average, 22 people are hurt or killed every year by bus fires.

School Bus News: New Standard on NOx Emissions Proposed

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently made a significant announcement that may impact anyone attempting to manage a school bus fleet: They will be updating their standards on nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions from heavy engines, for the first time in 20 years. Those standards changes will almost undoubtedly include school bus engines and may hasten the need for engine upgrades among districts running older fleets.

3 Reasons to Reduce School Bus Idling

When managing a school bus transportation network, there are a lot of factors to keep track of, and sometimes it's easy to let the little things slip by. However, in the case of school bus idling, it's a little thing that adds up to big problems! Your drivers should be trained to avoid idling whenever possible and driving in such a way that minimizes the need for it.

Threats Require Increased School Bus Security

In recent years, school districts around the country have had to improve security in response to ever more shootings, violence, and even terrorist activity. It's a dangerous world, and schools have to be prepared. However, all too often a district will focus all its efforts on their school buildings and other immediate property, while mostly overlooking school bus security.

The Future Of School Bus Transportation: Raising the Safety Bar

When it comes to running a school bus transportation system, nothing is more important than protecting the precious cargo onboard each bus. For a long time, transportation administrators had limited options for improving bus safety, but in recent years we've seen a big boom in research and development of new bus safety features.

So in today's article, we wanted to highlight some of the new safety systems that may be coming to your school bus transportation system in the near future.

Will Propane Lead the School Bus Industry?

In a recent webinar, the President of ROUSH CleanTech, Todd Mouw, made a bold proclamation: "Propane [in school buses] is going to be the lead horse for the next decade," referring to its status as the most commonly used alt fuel. ROUSH CleanTech provides a variety of alt-fuel vehicles and conversion systems, so he doesn't have a horse in this race, so to speak. As one of the major players in this field, he would be in a position to know which alt-fuels were leading.

Most people in the industry - including Mouw - believe that electric vehicles will eventually become dominant in the school bus industry. However, that day is at least a decade off, possibly more. In the meantime, a fuel is needed to bridge the gap between gasoline and pure electric buses.

Is propane that bridge?

Studies Reveal Added Benefits of School Bus Seat Belts

Are school bus seat belts a feature that would save lives, or are they more trouble than they're worth? For decades, the conventional wisdom was the latter: Buses are already so safe that any benefits added by belts would be minimal, and counterbalanced with new safety problems they'd create. However, more and more evidence is starting to challenge this perception.

What's Behind Fatalities at School Bus Stops?

According to School Transportation News, there have been 14 accidents near school bus stops in 2018 - with five of the accidents occurring in November alone! Of those accidents, eight resulted in student fatalities - tying the number of deaths in 2017. In every case, the accident would have been preventable.

Six Ways to Support Your School Bus Drivers

Do your bus drivers feel well-supported by management and other employees of your school district? With the school bus driver shortage still causing problems, this is an important question! A district needs to maintain awareness of their drivers' morale. Otherwise, they could be easily poached by other districts, or decide to move into other areas of commercial driving work.

Here are a few ways your district can support your bus drivers and ensure their morale remains high.

Four Ways to Use School Bus Technology for Security

When it comes to school bus safety, there's a tendency to focus on features that provide physical safety - and understandably enough. However, security is also a major element in bus safety, and should not be overlooked. Fortunately, companies involved in school bus technology know this, and have been putting new solutions on the market that help improve awareness and oversight of a bus fleet.

The right technological investments can help you prevent unwanted guests on your bus, keep track of your buses and riders, and keep your fleet secure when it's not in use. These are some of our favorites.

Should Your District Buy Used School Buses?

If a school district is looking to expand their bus fleet without breaking their transportation budget, buying used school buses would be an easy way to do it - at least in theory. School buses don't hold onto their value very well, so it's relatively easy to find used buses which cost a fraction of what a new bus would.

Four Ways to Make Parents Comfortable With School Bus Transportation

First days of school are often hard on the children, but it seems like it's becoming common for that first day to be hard on the parents as well. In this age of "helicopter parenting" it can be difficult for parents to wave goodbye to their children as they board the bus for the first time. Some parents may even resist using school bus transportation systems, specifically because they don't want to let anyone else drive their child.

Your bus routes will run a lot more smoothly if you can help parents become more comfortable with the idea of bus rides. Here are a few tips on how to ease parents' fears.

School Bus Transportation: Calming Autistic Students

The numbers are a bit fuzzy, but somewhere between 1-2% of students are diagnosed as having Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a developmental disorder that creates social and communicative impairments. Autistic students can be difficult to deal with - particularly for those who aren't trained in working with them.

School Bus Safety: More Than Just Seat Belts

Many school districts looking to improve their school bus safety are starting to turn to seat belts as one potential answer. However, the debate over school bus seat belts is surprisingly complicated. Plus, in any case, retrofitting an entire bus fleet with belts on every seat is a very expensive proposition.

Without wading into the question of whether school bus belts will actually save lives, we've got some suggestions for more cost-effective alternatives to improve school bus safety.

Four Reasons to Replace Aging School Buses

School buses are extremely expensive, and represent a huge investment for any school district which has purchased a fleet. It's entirely understandable that a district would want to get the most possible use out of their buses. However, nothing escapes the ravages of time, and at some point any school bus will outlive its usefulness.

Pitching a major fleet upgrade can be an uphill battle, but sometimes it's simply necessary. Or, at least, the cost-benefit analysis points towards old buses being too much of a liability. Here are some big warning signs that those older buses should probably be replaced.

School Bus Maintenance: Controlling Costs

When it comes to the costs of a school bus fleet, fuel is usually the number one line item - but school bus maintenance costs are rarely far behind. Buses can be expensive to maintain but, of course, it's absolutely necessary to keep the buses running safely and on schedule.

Maintenance costs will always be needed, but they can often be reduced. Here are some tips for getting your ongoing costs-of-ownership as low as possible.

Five Must-Have Fleet Tracking Features

As things stand, there are a lot of arguments in favor of embracing a school bus tracking system, and very few reasons not to. Tracking your school buses on the road gives you much better insight into your bus operations, provides plenty of data to help lower your on-road costs and, of course, substantially improves school bus safety.

Bus tracking is an investment into your fleet that easily justifies the expense, and will quickly pay for itself through lowered costs.

School Bus Drivers: New FMCSA Diabetes Rule

Insulin-dependent diabetics got a big piece of good news this month: Thanks to a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rule change, it is now much easier for them to receive commercial interstate driver's licenses.

Five Best Practices for Hiring School Bus Drivers

Are you having much luck hiring new school bus drivers? If you're like many districts around the country, this is a constant source of frustration. The bus driver shortage shows no signs of abating, with some outlets even referring to it as "the new norm."

To get qualified drivers into your district, you need to be creative about your recruitment techniques - but without sacrificing any quality in your hires. We've got some suggestions for how to do just that.

Environmental Benefits of School Bus Transportation

Is yellow the new green? It would be if more people knew the environmental benefits of school bus transportation!

School buses bring numerous benefits to a community, but all too often, the environmental aspects are overlooked. Buses can genuinely help reduce a community's reliance on automobiles, improve the local atmosphere, and prevent needless gasoline waste - among other positives.

This is a great topic to bring up with parents, or even students, whenever the matter of school bus transportation comes up. It can be especially useful when it's time to talk about funding upgrades for your bus fleet!

NHTSA Video Asks Drivers to Stop for School Buses

There is no doubt that nearby drivers are one of the biggest dangers to students riding school buses. Every year, cars ignoring bus safety lights and stop arms endanger, injure, or even kill student riders. This is a problem that should be preventable, if only there were better public education - and now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is trying to make that happen.

Dealing With School Bus Trespassing

Sometimes it seems like people do things that we shouldn't need to say are completely inappropriate...like trespassing on school buses. Unfortunately, it happens. In fact, in recent months there have been several high-profile cases of unauthorized individuals boarding school buses to harass students or staff. Worse, some districts - such as the Escambia County School District - have discovered there aren't even laws on the books preventing it!

While not the most common threat to student bus safety, school bus trespassing is a legitimate problem that districts should be prepared to confront. Here are some of the things you and your drivers should be aware of.

NHTSA to Study the Effect of Seat Belts on Student Behavior

When it comes to school transportation safety, few issues have been more contentious than the matter of school bus seat belts. Do they do more good than harm? Do the benefits outweigh the costs? For much of the 20th Century, the general conclusion was “No.” Seat belts, it was said, added significant costs to buses without adding substantially to physical safety, and even introduced new dangers in cases where students were wearing their seat belts incorrectly.


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