School Bus Safety: Driver Fatigue

school bus management, school bus safety, driver fatigue

DriverFatigueDriver fatigue has been the cause of many school bus accidents over the years.  There are instances of school bus drivers falling asleep behind the wheel resulting in students being injured and in the most unfortunate of circumstances being killed.

What exactly is driver fatigue?  It is the general term used to describe the experience of feeling sleepy, tired or exhausted when driving a vehicle.

Americans have days full of personal and professional commitments and responsibilities that create many opportunities to become fatigued.  School bus drivers are no exception to this fact and their profession alone can be draining.  They are often up early in the morning making transportation runs at 6 a.m. and driving long routes.  They may also have transportation obligations that extend into the evening such as athletic events or field trips.  However, there is a deep commitment to high safety standards for school bus drivers who are tasked to keeping our most precious cargo, the students, safe as they are transported to and from school.

It is very important for drivers to be alert when transporting students.  However things such as illness, exhaustion or weariness due to hard work or lack of sleep can rob a driver of the extra edge that they need to ensure safety while driving.  If drivers feel that they are unable to operate a school bus safely, then they should not drive and they should contact their supervisor immediately.

There are instances of driving fatigue crashes that occur because drivers did not recognize the danger of drowsy driving.  Not getting enough sleep can impair performance for tasks requiring focus, like driving.  When we begin to get drowsy, our reaction time slows and it takes longer to react and process information.  As a result, fatigue can result in drivers veering off the road, driving into oncoming traffic, causing accidents and endangering student passengers.

Preventing driver fatigue takes commitment from every including the government, school district, transportation department and each individual driver.  Understanding the full dangers of driving fatigued, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established regulations on the number of hours commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers are allowed to work. 

Drivers have to begin to recognize the warning signs of fatigue, which can vary between drivers.  Some symptoms may include heavy eyelids, poor concentration, yawning, restlessness, drowsiness, slow reaction times and irritability.    

School bus driver fatigue is a life-threatening concern that puts drivers, pedestrians, motorists and students at risk.  Reducing driver fatigue risks in student transportation is the responsibility of the government, school district, transportation department and the individual drivers.

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