Texas Department of Public Safety Addresses Overcrowded School Buses
published on February 06, 2020 by Sonia Mastros
Here's a school bus safety violation that shouldn't happen, yet it does with surprising frequency: running buses that are overcrowded. In Texas, for example, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) was forced to step in and issue public advisories, due to receiving too many complaints of buses running with too many children onboard.
In some cases, the students were sitting in the aisles, or even walking around while the bus was in motion! It's genuinely a bit hard to understand how either the district or the driver allowed this to happen. After all, the odds of injury in any sort of collision will skyrocket if the kids aren't properly seated. These drivers and districts were truly endangering their most precious passengers!
This is a school bus safety issue that is entirely avoidable, with smart planning and strong policies in place.
Tips for Maintaining Proper Ridership on Your Buses
1. Invest in Better Rider Management Software
If your district is still keeping track of children and buses by hand, there is a much better way to do it - with software. Modern school bus management software packages make it much easier to manage routes and riders while giving you more options in creating flexible routes. You might even discover new alternative routes which will lower your on-road operating costs.
2. Don't Let Buses Run At Max Capacity
When building your routes, always leave at least a little room available. If your district is running any buses at max capacity on a daily basis, that means there's very little room for error or unexpected events. What if a child who rarely rides the bus suddenly needs a lift? There should always be a few empty spots for new or unexpected riders.
3. Give Drivers the Power to Say 'No'
While we don't know the exact circumstances which prompted that Texas DPS warning, it's hard to imagine that the drivers were all OK with the situation. After all, in Texas - and everywhere else - it's the driver who will be held responsible for harmful accidents or other violations of the vehicle code. So did none of the drivers' protest when asked to run a bus with children sitting in the aisles? It seems unlikely.
More likely, they protested but were overridden by management. This is bad practice, for any number of reasons. Worst of all, it undercuts the driver's ability to keep their passengers safe.
School Bus Safety Is Everyone's Responsibility
No matter the size of your district, everyone involved in your bus system should be working together to prioritize the safety of your passengers.
Has your district ever had issues with overcrowded buses? Let us know below how you handled the situation!