4 Effective Techniques For Improving Your Bus Drivers Morale

school management system, bus driver, school bus driver

school bus driversEvery day, millions of students get on board school buses, making them the most precious - and vulnerable- cargo on the road. One of a school's first and most important duties is ensuring those students reach their destination safely every time.

One of the best ways to help meet this goal is to focus on driver morale. Bus drivers are easily overlooked, and rarely thanked, so it's easy for the “angry bus driver” stereotype to arise. Yet, obviously, calm and upbeat drivers are absolutely going to be better drivers.

So if you feel like you could be getting more from your driving crew, but aren't quite sure how, here are four sure-fire ways of boosting their morale!

Four Great Ways To Keep Your Bus Drivers Happy On The Road

1 – Effective feedback processes.

If you want to keep your bus drivers happy, give them ways to contribute. This is actually important for a few reasons:

  • Despite all the computers and mapping options available, no one is going to know your routes and roads better than the people who drive them every day. That's an information source just waiting to be tapped.

  • Drivers are also much more aware of the students on their bus, and their individual behaviors. Comments regarding problematic passengers should be taken very seriously. 

  • As a district moves towards more centralization and computer systems, drivers are likely to feel “shut out” or disempowered. A reliable feedback and response process gives some of this power back to your drivers.

  • Consider small monetary rewards or  verbal recognition for suggestions that result in cost savings, such as a driver reporting a shortcut that avoids evening congestion.

Whether you do it in the form of monthly surveys, or a suggestion box, or any other form... giving your drivers the ability to make suggestions and see them implemented will go a long way towards keeping their morale up.

2 – Movie and\or free lunch days.

One of the most effective ways of keeping morale up among your drivers is to simply give them something to look forward to. A scheduled monthly free lunch with movie for your transportation staff, for example, is a great way to show them the district cares while rewarding them for their hard work.

This is also a great tactic to use when you have field trips, and your bus drivers don't really have time to go home between the morning and afternoon bus routes.

Rather than forcing them to twiddle their thumbs in the breakroom, this is a perfect opportunity to give them a little bonus. Lunch or a movie on these days keeps them on-campus, and less upset about having to hang around.

3 – Invite guest speakers.

There's no end to the research being done on students, their behaviors, our road system, and proper bus driving techniques. When you have in-service or half days, or other times that bus drivers have to wait around on campus, guest speakers are great option to break up the monotony.

This is ultimately another way of keeping bus drivers “in the loop.”

Rather than handing down new rules and regulations from on high, proper guest speakers can clearly explain WHY policy changes are happening, as well as their positive benefits. It also gives your drivers an opportunity to ask questions of actual travel experts, like police officers or insurance crash investigators. It's unlikely your district has anyone in-house with that sort of expertise.

Guest speakers keep your drivers up to date on the latest best practices, and give them a great opportunity to refine their driving techniques.  This also saves time and money normally spent on conferences.

4 – Safe driving rewards. school bus drivers

The integration of computer and bus driving systems now opens up an exciting new opportunity for boosting your drivers' morale: Direct rewards for optimal driving performance.

If your buses are equipped with a GPS tracking system, your computers are able to record virtually every piece of data from every moment along a bus's route. From fuel efficiency, to stopping distances, to speed limit violations – it's all tracked and recorded.

Rather than using this as disincentive, we recommend the opposite: Establish some monthly or quarterly awards in different performance categories. Those drivers with the best gas mileage, or the lowest noted speed limit infractions, should be periodically rewarded for their good work.

GPS tracking systems can make drivers uneasy, despite their many student benefits. This approach makes them far less imposing for your transportation crew.

Better Morale Makes Better Drivers

It's really that simple: For little or no extra cost, a few amenities and bonuses for your drivers can create significantly better, more efficient, and safer drivers.

Remember, “bus driver” is among the most thankless jobs at a school district. These little gestures will mean a lot to drivers who are feeling put-upon, and improve your transportation in the process.

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