School Bus Drivers: Combating Distracted Driving
published on February 20, 2020 by Sonia Mastros
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.
Incidents of distracted school bus drivers are rare, but they do happen - such as this California incident where a driver rear-ended a stopped truck, causing a chain reaction collision. Even if they might be rare, they must be avoided at all costs. This means better driver training, as well as creating conditions onboard buses that will reduce the likelihood of distraction.
Four Ways To Reduce The Chances Of Distracted School Bus Drivers
1 - Put extra adults onboard
Any time a bus driver is alone with a bus load of children, the chances of them being distracted by their passengers goes up drastically. Probably the best thing any district can do to prevent this - and significantly reduce chances of distracted driving accidents in general - is to make sure every bus has at least one other adult, tasked with keeping the kids in line.
If your district can't afford the extra hours, put out a call for parent volunteers. You'll undoubtedly get plenty.
2 - Big screens are less distracting than small screens
More school districts are beginning to put tablets onboard their buses for the drivers' use, and there are multiple good reasons for that. One of the biggest reasons is simply that tablets are bigger than cellphones or GPS devices, and therefore easier for the driver to glance at while in motion. If they're checking their position on the map, for example, they can get that information more quickly from a large screen than a small one.
If your drivers are still relying on their own personal devices for functions such as GPS mapping, consider installing larger screens.
3 - Cell phone bans, potentially backed up by surveillance
In many cases, it's a good idea to simply ban your drivers from using their own cell phones except in actual emergencies. This can be difficult to enforce, particularly if there aren't other adults onboard. However, installing surveillance cameras can get around this.
Plus, cameras are excellent for improving behavior onboard your buses in general.
4 - More training / role-playing
Finally, don't forget the benefits of simply having more training focused on the topic. Going over common sources of distraction, and how to avoid them, can do a lot to improve driver performance. Use role-playing scenarios to help reinforce the lessons!
Does your district do anything special to help combat distracted driving among your school bus drivers? Let's talk about it in the comments!