School buses are actually already statistically far safer than riding in a family vehicle, at least the NHTSA claims this to be so. This PDF shows that only a mere 1% of devastating injuries are caused to students traveling by school bus. In fact, in a 10-year study from 2003-2013, the USDOT reports that only 0.35% of fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes were classified as school-transportation related [source].
So what makes buses so safe? This may be due to a number of reasons:
If buses are so extremely safe, then what are the ways in which we can improve as an industry? The majority of accidents are going to occur in the danger zones surrounding the bus, when students are alighting. Again, this is mainly under the control of drivers, but there are ways in which having K-12 transportation software can provide an advantage. The position of each stop, how the driver approaches these stops, adherence to safe routes and drop off procedures, accuracy of addresses, all play a part in how safely a student can get to their destinations.
Each stop has been pre-planned. Perhaps you specify stops that aren’t on a 4-lane road, on a busy street or in an area with poor visibility. You have specified routes you need your drivers to take to ensure they approach each stop from the right direction and certain geographic zones you wish to avoid outright. Vehicle tracking and GPS location services enable your dispatchers to keep tabs on the current status of each bus and alerts them to deviations and violations as they occur. They have immediate warning of a possible vehicle breakdown or an event on the bus so they can contact drivers as soon as possible. Your K-12 transportation software solution allows you greater insight into the activities of the bus on the road.
In another situation, maintaining accurate schedules for each student is also a prominent feature of digital collection and an integrated database. Each student can have an extremely complex pick-up and drop-off schedule based on custody agreements, after school activities, absences due to illness or vacations. Schedules can shift and be edited each and every day. This can make for an unpredictable daily schedule for drivers, leading to errors and unsafe behavior. If an error occurs on route, drivers may be left scrambling to regain the integrity of the set route and schedule during rush hours and on congested streets. TripSpark Education’s integrated database and drag-and-drop schedule creation takes the stress out of building accurate daily schedules and dealing with errors as they occur. Turn-by-turn directions can enable seasoned drivers, and especially a substitute driver who may be less familiar with a designated route.
You can build confidence in your transportation system when you broadcast how safe school buses are in relation to other forms of transit, the positive impact on the environment as well as your K-12 transportation software implementation. The end result can very well be an increase in valuable riders. You may then want to consider implementing a parent-pleasing Student Tracking System. With it, parents can get real time guarantees and monitoring of exactly where their children are on your bus routes and when/where they disembark. As more schools are transitioning to this level of student monitoring and safety, this is becoming a hot topic of late. If you want to learn more about how it works in the real world, download our customer success story featuring Volusia County and how they’ve improved their operation using this type of technology.
The overall goal of school transportation software is to provide drivers and schedulers with the tools they need to keep more attention on their jobs, to make their jobs easier and to increase safety and awareness. Safety doesn’t simply emerge from a single initiative. It is a cumulative effect built out of a number of areas of which K-12 transportation software plays a part. By creating clear lines of communication and data sharing between drivers and dispatch, your pre-planned routes are strictly adhered to and all possible advantages are given to drivers to remain on course. Talk to a K-12 transportation software specialist today to learn more about how scheduling and routing efficiencies in the office can lead to real-world advantages on the street and for your student riders.