Special Needs Student Transportation: Developing Driver Training
published on April 12, 2016 by Sonia Mastros
Special needs students across North America rely on school bus transportation to get them safely to and from school. Though traffic laws and regulations surrounding the safe transport of students of all abilities differ from state to state and district to district, there are certain skills that should be taught to any bus driver who works with students who require special services.
Understanding Legal Requirements
In the United States, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires schools to serve the educational needs of all eligible students with disabilities. In many cases, these needs include specific transportation requirements. When developing training materials for school bus transportation personnel who will be working with eligible children, it is important to include information on the legal requirements of districts and drivers.
Of course, learning to properly handle a large vehicle requires specialized training. In addition to standard driver training, those who will be transporting special needs students, along with bus aides and maintenance personnel, should be trained to properly use any additional equipment that might be installed to accommodate students. This aspect of driver training to ensure student safety is vital, because improper use of equipment such as wheelchair lifts could result in student injury.
Considering the Needs of Each Student
Drivers should receive specific training on the needs and differences in behaviors of each student that they transport. Certain situations may require different responses, based on the needs and abilities of the students being transported. Drivers should be aware of the characteristics of the disabilities of any student being transported, so that they can identify medical situations and respond appropriately. It is also necessary in the case of an evacuation or other emergency for drivers to understand what each student can do with or without help.
Tools for Training
Specialized training modules for special needs school bus transportation is available through government entities and private organizations. Combining these training programs with training customized for your district can help your drivers develop the skills needed to safely transport each student. Special needs routing software, such as student tracking and route optimization programs, is another great tool for ensuring that routes are safe and each student makes it to their destination.
If you would like more information about specialized tools available for special needs student transportation personnel, contact the team at BusBoss.
Has your district developed effective driver training for special needs transportation? We’d love to hear from you.