Safety & Security
Share your stories and find out what others are doing to instill a safe, secure environment for student riders, bus drivers, the community at-large and the vehicles themselves.
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Our district start installing them a few years ago. The state guidelines for exterior mounts were barely developed in the last two or three years. But we have been using external cameras for some time (depending on the manufacturer and if they offered an external mount). Locally, there are two or three other school districts that have them. The problem usually is the law enforcement agency that receives the paperwork. Some, I have been told, that some do not do anything when they receive the stop sign violation form, even if there is a positive ID on the license plate. Example, in town, the local police get the paper work, while in the country, it is the Sheriff. State highways and freeways is the State Police/State Patrol. Our local TV station did a story last year about the districts that have cameras to catch violators. They did a follow up this fall, but I don't recall the specifics.
At times, the students don't even care that the cameras are there. You remind them that they are being video recorded and you can show their parent/teacher/principal/etc the video of their behavior. It stops some behavior, but they get right back at it after a little bit. It depends on the consequences (ie removed off bus, loss of play ground time, etc). You can have the most the expensive system and catch EVERYTHING, but if there are no consequences for the students, it won't mean anything. Parents, who see the video, do not look at their child, but look at what the other students are doing and try to divert attention to them. Why are you disciplining my child when that child is also standing....is how some conversations go. Not all, but it happens. As for the drivers, if you are doing your job properly as you have been trained by your district/employer, then there should be no fear of the camera.
E Center Head Start Programs conducts Evacuation Drills once a month. Our children are between 3 to 5 years of age; so establishing a routine is important. All children transported on buses participate.The bus drivers and transportation aides (bus monitors) make it a fun event for the children.
Remotely adjusted sideview mirrors should be mandatory. Easily adjustable driver's seat should be mandatory. It may sound crazey but the new units purchased by First Student have niether, so if called upon to use a different bus you need to call a mechanic to help adjust the seat and find someone to help you with the mirror station and you are still only allocated 15 minutes for pre-trip.
Even though bus manufacturers say seats hold 3 students, I can't imagine allowing seating like this. It blocks your view out the back door and eliminates the protection provided by compartmentalization. I made a video showing what happens to kids who aren't sitting correctly; sitting half way on the seat is one of the positions we tried. At 30 mph I hit the brake and the student went flying up the aisle and landed on her side 5 rows ahead of where she'd been seated. The video is pretty eye opening. If anyone would like a copy of it I'd be glad to share.
We look at how many points a driver has and whether or not they have had a DWI. A CDL in Texas is suspended at 10 points, so if someone comes in we more than 6 points, they are usually passed up on getting a job offer. In Texas, even if you are not at fault, you recieve 2 points. Also in Texas, they have a surcharge for points above 6. I forgot how much it is, but it is charge I believe that reoccur every year. If the licensee does not pay that surcharge their license is suspended. In Texas, if you possess a CDL, you cannot take defensive driving courses to remove those points off your record, even if you got that ticket in your personnal vehicle. I firmly believe that the way a person drives in their personal vehicle, does not dictate how they would drive a bus.