Railroad Safety Tips for School Bus Drivers
published on October 15, 2021 by Sonia Mastros
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.
Safety First At Railroad Crossings!
School bus drivers should have the basics of railroad crossing safety drilled into them.
Buses should always come to a full stop upon reaching a railroad crossing and the driver should look both ways before proceeding. The driver should have a clear, unobstructed view down both directions. If there are multiple parallel tracks, remember that trains could be on either track, coming from either direction, potentially even at the same time.
This is particularly important at unguarded crossings since there will be no external warnings that a train is approaching.
If a train is visible at all, the bus should wait. Trains can move deceptively fast, so trying to beat the train is far too dangerous, even if it seems like it's far enough away. Also, a typical laden train can require more than a mile to come to a full stop, so a bus driver absolutely cannot rely on the train stopping in time. It probably can't.
Railroad Crossing Safety In Special Situations
What happens if something goes wrong?
One potential issue is a malfunction in railroad crossing guards, causing them to flash or lower without a train in view. Drivers should use the utmost caution in these situations! Most train crossings have a visible telephone number posted to call and report potential issues. Drivers should make use of this to find out if the crossing guard is truly malfunctioning.
If there's no phone number, drivers should call/radio the district office to advise them of the situation. Attempting to cross the tracks despite the warning lights or barriers should be considered an emergency option only.
Speaking of emergencies, if a bus ever stalls out in the middle of the tracks, the bus driver should immediately evacuate the bus, and get their passengers clear of the tracks. Then they should report back to the office to request assistance. Never let students remain on a railroad track; it's simply too dangerous.
Finally, school bus drivers should always keep an eye out for police officers, or other people directing traffic. Their presence automatically indicates problems with the track.
Railroad crossing safety is a major part of school bus safety. How do you keep your school bus drivers trained and refreshed on the topic?
Please share your tips in the comments!