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SCHOOL BUS SAFETY: DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME

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Of all the blogs we do all year, safety is the most important subject we can talk about.  Safety is no accident. The phrase is an industry cliché for good reason.

“Every mother assumes that everything that can be done for safety on school buses is being done,” said Jeff Cassell, founder of School Bus Safety Company. “Most people take it for granted. But I can tell you [there are] school districts that say to me, ‘We comply with the regulations, we don’t need to do any more.’ The regulations are the minimum you can do. You can’t do any less, so you should really be doing considerably more.”

The new FMCSA entry-level driver training requirements that are required by the 2021 Moving Ahead for Progress Act (MAP-21) that was passed into law by Congress focus on qualifications, wellness, hours of service for truck drivers and whistleblower protection. They are also designed to ensure refresher courses for veteran drivers.

The new rules also mean implementing a safety management system in every commercial transportation organization.

The law was supposed to go into effect on Feb. 7, 2020. As of this report, the FMCSA was unofficially delaying the entire implementation by two years, a spokesman told attendees of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 15. The agency initially sought to only postpone the technical requirements for an online database.

Cassell advised that school districts and bus companies should be moving ahead with installing a compliant safety management program, with a safety management policy that is driven by leadership commitment and accountability. Safety risk management must identify, assess and mitigate risks, in tandem with the promotion of safety in communication and training.

“We know the behaviors that drivers do that consciously and deliberately lead to 99.9 percent of every accident,” Cassell explained. “We know exactly what those conscious and deliberate behaviors are: following too closely, not looking around, not looking ahead, not communicating, not rock and rolling for turns, and not counting the kids away [after they exit the bus].”

“A safety culture is where you have norms so that people automatically do it right the first time in everything they do,” Cassell stressed. “I suggest the leadership decide what are the norms you want and communicate it.”

We wish everyone a happy, healthy, and SAFE New Year!!

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