Students, Parents, and Schools Celebrate School Bus Driver Appreciation Week Oct. 22-26

A school bus driver’s career is about safely delivering the world’s most precious cargo – our students. Making a positive difference in the life of a child is what motivates school bus drivers.

Locally, parents, teachers, and superintendents celebrate National School Bus Driver Appreciation Week by making special cards, delivering special snacks, talking with drivers about how much their commitment to student safety means to families, schools, and the community, and learning about a day in the life of a school bus driver. School district transportation directors celebrate National School Bus Driver Appreciation Week by providing driver safety training at the district. It’s all about safety first.

Historically, Maine schools celebrate National School Bus Driver Appreciation Week during National School Bus Safety Week which occurs annually during the third week in October. It is a time for Mainers to reflect upon the outstanding job performance of our school bus drivers who transport students to and from school and school related events throughout the year traveling over 30 million miles of urban and rural roads. In Maine about 80 percent of students ride the school bus which is much higher than the national average of 50 percent.

School bus drivers provide an essential service. They are responsible for conserving the comfort, safety, and welfare of students they transport. Should a critical incident occur that requires student relocation, school bus drivers will be called on to deliver students to a safe haven.

A typical day in the life of a school bus driver means arriving early, performing daily pre-trip bus inspections, knowing what students ride the bus, where each student lives, and what school each student attends. During the day drivers may deliver students to field trips or education events and they may work at the school as a bus technician, safety officer, software technician, or custodian. At the end of each day the driver performs a post-trip bus clear and inspection to secure the bus in preparation for the next day.

School bus drivers like to drive, enjoy working with students, care about children’s safety, have great people skills, remain calm under pressure, and have flexible or full-time work schedules. School bus drivers must receive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) commercial driver’s license (CDL) with school bus S and passenger P endorsement. This requires additional driving and skills tests that are administered by a certified examiner. School bus drivers must pass federally regulated skills and knowledge evaluations which are conducted with a written and driving exam. Federal regulations require random drug testing. Maine regulations require a background check and physical exam to determine driver fitness for duty. Important qualities for school bus drivers are good customer services skills, normal hand-eye coordination, good hearing and visual ability, patience, and good physical health. School bus drivers are the first school employee students see at the beginning of each school day and the last one they see at the end of the school day.

For information about how to become a school bus driver contact the Maine Association for Pupil Transportation (MAPT) http://www.maptme.org/.

Maine Schools Join Others Around The Nation to Recognize National School Bus Safety Week October 22-26

National School Bus Safety Week, scheduled October 22-26 this year, is a public education program that promotes school bus safety.

Nationally, each day about 480,000 school buses travel the nation’s roads transporting about 25,000,000 students to and from schools and school-related activities. This makes school buses the largest mass transportation program in the nation.

studentPoster

2018 National School Bus Safety Week theme: My Driver – My Safety Hero.  The theme is derived from the Poster contest the year before.  The 2017 winning poster, depicted above, was drawn by Aumkar Patel, a 5th Grader at Henry County Schools in McDonough, GA.

In Maine, there are about 3,000 school buses traveling about 30,000,000 miles per year and delivering about 140,000 students. While national ridership of school buses is at 50 percent, about 80 percent of Maine students ride the school bus. Local school transportation teams throughout Maine will educate the public about school bus safety and local transportation safety training during National School Bus Safety Week.

Transportation is a great equalizer in education, providing students from all economic backgrounds with the opportunity to learn and succeed. Additionally, as pointed out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration U.S. Department of Transportation, “School buses are by far the safest way for children to get to and from school.”

School buses are specifically designed and engineered for safety in order to protect occupants against crashes and incidents on the road. Nearly every part of a school bus has higher standards of safety when compared to ordinary cars. The following school bus safety features are not found on any other passenger vehicle:

  • School bus seats are above the crash line so that the impact of a vehicle colliding with a school bus hits beneath the seated passengers
  • Passenger seating and crash protection are required for school bus seating systems
  • A steel cage around the fuel tank that provides bus fuel system integrity
  • Emergency exits are provided by way of doors, windows and roof hatches
  • Bus body joint strength that specifies the minimum strength of the joints between panels of the bus body and the body structure
  • Rollover protection that specifies the minimum structural strength of buses in rollover-type crashes

In addition to school bus safety design, State-level school bus safety laws support good driving behavior. In Maine, these laws include:

  • Passing a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing is a criminal violation punishable by a $311 minimum fine for the first offense and a mandatory license suspension for the second offense.
  • A vehicle may not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or until signaled by the bus operator that it is okay to proceed.
  • A school bus operator who observes someone illegally passing a stopped school bus can report violations to a law enforcement officer.
  • School buses are required to stop at railroad crossings.
  • Unless otherwise posted, the school zone speed limit is 15 miles per hour during school opening or closing hours, as well as recess.

More information about National School Bus Safety Week can be found here: https://www.napt.org/nsbsw

For information about school transportation policy contact Transportation and Facilities Administrator Pat Hinckley at pat.hinckley@maine.gov

The National School Bus Safety Week public education program is sponsored by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS), National School Transportation Association (NSTA), National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT), Pupil Transportation Safety Institute (PTSI) and school bus manufacturers and suppliers.

School Safety and Security Bulletin: Transportation Safety

Throughout the 2018- 2019 school year, the Maine Department of Education, State Fire Marshal’s Office, Department of Health and Human Services, Maine State Police, Maine Sheriffs Association, Maine Chiefs of Police Association, and the Maine Emergency Management Agency will provide tips and resource information to Maine schools to help provide some guidance for identifying signs and preventing school violence.

School Safety and Security Bulletin  – October 2018

Further questions and inquiries can be send to Pat Hinkley, Maine DOE Transportation and Facilities Administrator at pat.hinckley@maine.gov.

Interactive Three-day Workshop on the Application of School Transportation Software

Transfinder University is coming to Augusta, Maine!  Maine public school transportation staff are invited to attend a three-day workshop which will provide participants with information regarding bus routing, map editing, geo-coding, pre-routing, custom reporting, and more to optimize their local district transportation operations.  Public school districts using Transfinder are strongly encouraged to participate in this workshop, as it will provide refined knowledge and practice on the routing module used to enhance transportation efficiency, logistics, reporting, and safety.

This computer-based intensive workshop will be taught by Brian Keefer who is a senior educator for Transfinder Corporation.  The curriculum includes a combination of educator-led lessons with a hands-on lab where participants’ complete real transportation operations tasks using actual Transfinder system software.

To meet the high demand for this course, this year, we doubled the class capacity.  Pre-registration is required.  Computers will be provided.  Wireless internet and free parking will be available.  Attendees are responsible for hotel reservations and meals.  Breakfast is included for participants who stay overnight at the Senator Inn.  Continuing education units will be available upon request.  The Maine Department of Education is sponsoring this course and there is no cost for Maine Public school Transfinder users.

Date:  October 2-4, 2018

Time:  8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Location:  Senator Inn, 284 Western Avenue, Augusta, Maine

Registration:  Pre-registration is required; the class fills quickly

Register Now – To register for the workshop, call 888-427-2403 ext. 8206 and speak with Angela Vitti, Maine Transfinder Account Executive, or send an email to avitti@transfinder.com .

If you have questions about school transportation, please contact Pat Hinckley, Transportation and Facilities Administrator at pat.hinckley@maine.gov or 204-624-6886.

School Safety and Security Bulletin: If You See Something, Say Something

Throughout the 2018- 2019 school year, the Maine Department of Education, State Fire Marshal’s Office, Department of Health and Human Services, Maine State Police, Maine Sheriffs Association, Maine Chiefs of Police Association, and the Maine Emergency Management Agency will provide tips and resource information to Maine schools to help provide some guidance for identifying signs and preventing school violence.

School Safety and Security Bulletin  – September 2018

Further questions and inquiries can be send to Pat Hinkley, Maine DOE Transportation and Facilities Administrator at pat.hinckley@maine.gov.