Boosting School Bus Safety With Defensive Driver Training
published on August 27, 2021 by Sonia Mastros
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.
Five Key Elements of Defensive Driving To Reinforce With Your School Bus Drivers
1. Awareness of Weather and Road Conditions
As the weather and climate become more extreme, your drivers are likely going to find themselves facing inclement road conditions more often. Do they still remember how to handle a sudden snowstorm or a tornado alert? Fast action can save lives when the weather turns bad.
2. Stopping At Train Crossings
It's easy for anyone to get lazy about train crossings, and for bus drivers, that can be deadly. Reinforce that they must stop fully and look both ways before crossing a train track, even if the barriers and warning lights aren't activated.
If you have GPS units in your buses, monitor your drivers' habits and make sure they're stopping at crossings!
3. Turn Radius Awareness
As time goes by, drivers may start to make their turns too shallow, potentially endangering the bus or other vehicles if something goes wrong. Your drivers should always be swinging wide to make sure they can always make turns.
Also, encourage your drivers to avoid left turns against traffic whenever possible, even when under a protected turn signal. This is inherently more dangerous than right turns. In addition, often you can actually save on gas by making multiple right turns to avoid sitting in left-turn lanes.
4. Thoroughly Checking the Bus Before Every Trip
When is the last time you monitored your drivers while they do their pre-trip inspection and checklist? This is another area where even good drivers may start to slack off due to familiarity. Drivers should be thoroughly inspecting their vehicle before every trip, no matter how tedious it seems.
5. Blind Spots
Make sure your drivers are aware of all the blind spots on their buses. If there are too many blind spots, this might also be a good time to install more mirrors, or camera-based systems, to improve visibility.
School bus safety becomes much easier to achieve with good defensive driving. What do you emphasize in your own bus driver training? Please share your ideas in the comments below!