Social media has become an integral part of daily life for most individuals.  Today, we discuss the use of social media as it relates to school transportation.

A great way to showcase your school or district’s hard work and achievements is through social media.  Linkedin is a way to connect with other school transportation affiliates across the country.  Instagram can display your bus fleet or hardworking employees.  Facebook can host your school’s webpage.  Twitter can alert parents to any snow days or bus run cancellations.  Furthermore, social media can be used to hire new bus drivers by advertising and screening.

Students heavily utilize social media many different ways.  They can capture pictures and videos of the surroundings and upload them online in just a few seconds.  This means if a driver is behaving inappropriately behind the wheel, it may be easily recorded and uploaded to the internet for all to see.  Therefore, all school bus drivers should always conduct themselves with the utmost professionalism while on and off duty – if just to ensure the safety of the students utilizing the buses to get to and from school and activities.

School bus drivers should also be educated on the risks of cyber baiting, or the taunting of authority figures to capture their reaction and then post it online.  This is an ongoing issue throughout the education community and affects school administrators, teachers, and school bus drivers alike.

Be careful to not let the risks of social media deter you from using it.  With cautious measures, social media can be a great tool to bring positive attention to the things school bus drivers are doing for their community.


PBS News Hour aired a segment last month on seat belts on large school buses.  The piece, produced by Education Week, covered what we know from previous blogs, is a very complex matter and hit on most of the major issues.

In addition to recognizing that the yellow school bus is the safest vehicle on the road today, the story also noted that in order for seat belts to be effective, students have to wear them and wear them properly.

The story recognized that funding is one part of the equation, but there is also a matter of a school district’s overall safety priorities.  These can include focus on stop arm violations, greater efforts to increase safety around the outside of the school bus, and other safety issues – and understanding how seat belts fit into those priorities.

PBS and Education Week got it right that school buses are designed differently than passenger cars and that school buses are incredibly safe.  The story showed how complex the decision of whether or not to equip school buses with seat belts really is.


The latest survey from School Transportation News explored the various aspects of transporting special-needs children, including wheelchair safety, fire suppression technology and the growing rate of students diagnosed with autism.

St. Mary’s County Public Schools in Maryland reported that nearly 20 percent of their 275 school buses are devoted to transporting 400 special-needs children.  Some of those students use wheelchairs, however, according to Jeffrey Thompson, the director of transportation, the problem is not with the tie downs to secure the wheelchair, but when a student does not have a wheelchair that is designed for the student to be transported in.

Biloxi Public Schools in Mississippi transports 100 special-needs students and is currently adapting for WC19-compliant wheelchair guidelines.  Transportation director, Sam Bailey, has stated that the wheelchairs can be bulky and difficult to anchor in some type of buses.

Schools around the country have also seen a rise in the number of children diagnosed with autism.  Almost 90 percent of all survey responses confirmed this fact.  It also confirmed that students with autism require tackling several logistical concerns such as training bus staff on behavioral and communication strategies, and that some schools have no such training or do not update the training as needed.

Respondents also stated that the numerous news reports nationwide over the last year on school buses bursting into flames are overblown.  The suppression systems are touted as providing valuable time to evacuate students, especially those with special needs and they have yet to see the issue as a pressing crisis.

Most respondents did state that they think attention should be focused on crash avoidance systems, especially in the “Danger Zone”, (10 to 15 feet around the bus), as we discussed in a recent blog.


That’s the slogan the Wichita, Kansas, Public Schools is using in their new school bus driver recruitment video.  In the video, a training manager for the district’s contractor, First Student, explains what it takes to become a school bus driver as the local operation looks to bring new recruits on board – an issue that many districts and contractors across the nation still struggle with.

There are other commercial driving jobs that pay more than driving a school bus, but they don’t require transporting children.  Some potential drivers might prefer not to be responsible for several dozen children while navigating the roads.  But to others, the opportunity to contribute to children’s education and safety could be what sparks their interest in the job.  To address this issue, some school districts have held events in which they let job seekers try driving a school bus in a closed lot.  The goal is to show that these large vehicles are actually not that difficult to drive.

According to a School District Survey, 90% of respondents have some degree of school bus driver shortage.  It’s a critical time to get the word out in local communities about the need for school bus drivers before school starts again later this summer or early in the fall.


New school bus drivers in Tennessee will have to be at least 25 years old, and the state will set standards for driver and transportation manager training, under a newly enacted bill, HB 322.  As of January 1, 2018, the new law will raise the minimum age from 21 to 25.  In a recent Chattanooga crash, school bus driver Johnthony Walker was 24 years old.  He now faces six counts of vehicular homicide and other charges.

Under the new law, current school bus drivers who are between 21 and 25 years old will be  grandfathered in, so they can renew their existing endorsement.  The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that about 130 current TN school bus drivers who are under the age of 25 will be grandfathered in.

According to the latest state data collected by School Bus Fleet, there are approximately 9,178 school buses in TN.  This suggests that the 130 current drivers who are between 21 and 25 years old operate about 1.4% of the school buses in the state.

HB 322 also includes measures to increase state oversight of pupil transportation.  The legislation directs the TN Department of Education (DOE) and the TN Department of Safety to develop a mandatory training program for all transportation supervisors, establish a system for monitoring school compliance with state and federal laws, and prepare and annually update guidelines on best practices for the management of student transportation.

The governor of TN signed the legislation, HB 322, into law on May 4, 2017.


Three school districts in the Sacramento capital region received a total of 29 zero-emissions electric school buses for a pilot program funded by a $7.5 million grant and additional state cap-and-trade funds.

California had to first clear a legal hurdle with its one-of-a-kind, cap-and-trade fund.  An appeals court ruled last month that the program requiring companies to purchase permits for emitting levels of greenhouse gases does not constitute an unconstitutional tax and could proceed.  It’s the largest single deployment of electric school buses nationwide.  Canada currently is operating about 60 electric school buses in Quebec.

Timothy Shannon, director of transportation for Twin Rivers, explained that the cumulative project began two years ago following a meeting of his local peers to discuss alternative fuel paths.  The result was the consortium of the three districts and a 300 page grant proposal.  Twin Rivers, Elk Grove and Sacramento City competed with 30 other districts statewide and were chosen the winners.

Shannon agreed that the incremental cost of purchasing new electric buses (retail of $225,00o each) can be a hardship for districts nationwide, and that is with or without grant money.  But the upside can no longer be ignored.  He stated that their grant is for a couple of years and provides free electricity and that nationwide electricity is a regulated fuel, unlike petroleum fuels that fluctuate.  Shannon said the local electricity company is fully funding the school bus charging infrastructure and is providing service of 1,400 KW.  The electric company has already installed three large transformers on site.

“We’ll eventually have enough power to grid that it will offset any energy costs that the buses need.  So basically it will be a zero-fuel charge”, stated Shannon.

The future in school buses is here!


Children can seemingly vanish in broad daylight from the view of school bus drivers, despite state and federal regulations designed to eliminate the threat of injury in the “Danger Zone”.

It is an area that extends approximately 10 feet from the school bus on all sides.  It has proven to be the last treacherous piece of real estate students traverse before reaching the safety of the school bus, and the first hazard they encounter after leaving that sanctuary.  It’s  a place where students have fallen prey to distracted drivers passing the bus while it is loading or unloading students.  Some students have also been killed by their own bus, due to being lost in the blind spots where their driver lost track of them.

Despite the number of student fatalities occurring there being at an all-time low, some student transportation safety experts say there is still much more that can be done to increase the safety of children as they load and unload school buses.

Safety experts offered a series of steps that, when applied in unison, could have a profound impact on the situation.  They range from more closely following existing federal safety regulations, to better education for everyone involved, to better administrative oversight and support.

Training is the key.  Many districts are training drivers to “rock and roll” — “rock” forward to look for children, before you “roll” away.  Placement of mirrors are also found to be a proficient way of making sure children are not in the danger zone.  Counting the kids away is another way of making sure the students have left the danger zone.

Anything drivers and students can do to change the danger zone into a safe zone can’t be too much !


A local school bus driver was hailed for her actions to protect her passengers when her school bus caught fire this past Wednesday morning.  District Five Schools of Spartanburg County, SC, said that the incident occurred just after 7:00 am, as a bus operated by the district was transporting students to three schools.  There were 56 elementary, intermediate, and high school students on board.

According to District Five, two ninth grade students noticed smoke and alerted the school bus driver, Teresa Stroble, who then evacuated all of the passengers in less than one minute.  The Duncan Fire Department responded to the scene and put out the fire.

District officials praised Stroble, who also serves as a teacher assistant and has worked for District Five for seven years.  “[She] did exactly as she was trained and quickly and calmly evacuated all 56 students from the bus and got them to a safe location,” District Five was quoted as saying.  “She is a true hero!”

Like all other school buses in South Carolina, the bus that caught fire is owned by the state.  It was a 1995 Thomas Built rear-engine model.  The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

South Carolina has been working to update its school fleet.  In February, the state Department of Education acquired 26 new propane school buses to replace older diesel models.


AMF-Bruns of America has developed Easypull, a fully integrated winch system that pulls a wheelchair and passenger into a vehicle up a ramp.  Attached to the front of the wheelchair, the winch system draws the wheelchair inside the vehicle.  Once in place, Easypull’s automatic restraint system then secures the wheelchair to the vehicle.

Features and benefits of the winch system include:

  • No need for a person to push and secure a wheelchair passenger into a vehicle
  • Meets testing requirements
  • Wireless remote control
  • Compact design
  • Two speed levels
  • Fully adjustable positioning of the wheelchair inside the vehicle

“Easypull is a technological breakthrough that eliminates the need for a driver or caregiver from physically boarding a wheelchair inside a vehicle,” said Peter Haarhuis, CEO of AMF-Bruns of America.  “The product is easy to operate and meets all quality and testing requirements.”