Juggling Responsibilities in School Bus Operations
published on February 09, 2024 by Sonia Mastros
School transportation directors: are you keeping the needs of your bus drivers in mind? They have to juggle a lot of responsibilities on the road, while still keeping their passengers safe. There's a lot you can do to make their lives easier, while also helping ensure bus operations keep running smoothly.
Probably the most stressful aspect of bus driving is that the driver must somehow manage a large number of children while still safely driving the bus. Generally, the best way to handle this is to have a second adult on-board who can focus on the kids, but that's not always an option.
We recommend adding more training specifically on child psychology and management. Bus driver training often focuses almost exclusively on the bus itself, but neglects to give drivers tools for handling the passengers. Some additional child-focused training can significantly improve their ability to keep order on the bus, while driving.
Typically a bus driver has set routes which are easy enough to learn - but what happens when something goes wrong? Perhaps there's a traffic jam on the route, or bad weather has made a particular road dangerous.
If possible, drivers should not have to do their own navigation on top of their other responsibilities. They should have access to robust bus routing software capable of quickly determining new routes that still hit the same stops. Otherwise, they may not have enough mental space left to handle navigation on top of all their other responsibilities.
Conflicts between bus drivers and parents are probably inevitable and, anecdotally, seem to be getting worse over time. Parents hate hearing that their children are misbehaving on the bus, and many don't take it well.
As a transportation director, you should have your drivers' backs in conflicts. Poor administrative support can quickly wreck drivers' morale, and that can lead them to change jobs to another district if they feel they're being treated unfairly.
Adding passenger-facing video cameras to your buses is also a good idea, as those can provide irrefutable evidence of a child's wrongdoing.
Special Needs Students
If a bus driver is going to have one or more special needs students onboard, they must have full information on that child's needs and special accommodations. The same is true for any unhoused students who are protected under the McKenney-Vento Act.
The best way to accomplish this is to have centralized Student Information System (SIS) software which keeps track of all students and their needs. If the driver has access to this system, they will always have necessary information on how to provide for those students.
BusBoss Has Your Back
We are one of the industry leaders in software and support tools for managing bus fleets of any size. Our tools can make life easier for you and your drivers, while streamlining all your critical operations. Contact us to learn more.
Until then, how do you help support your drivers in their responsibilities? Please share your tips below!