The district’s Transportation Department uses a variety of training tools and programs
to assure the safety of our students and the community and neighborhoods around us.
This section will discuss a few of these tools and programs.
Prior to a bus driver being placed into our training program they must pass a background check by the Colorado Department of Education, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, and the FBI. Newly hired drivers are also required to pass a Federal Department of Transportation physical and an initial drug and alcohol screening. Upon completion of training the new driver is placed into a random drug and alcohol testing program as required by the Federal Department of Transportation. In addition, school bus drivers have a motor vehicle records check performed every 4.5 months.
All district drivers are trained in accordance with federal and state Commercial Driver License (CDL) and Colorado Department of Education (CDE) transportation requirements. Training and testing is done both hands on and by written exam for all school bus drivers. Drivers are also required to take a written test and hands on performance test in a school bus as part of their annual certification process.
All drivers are also provided with training in the following:
• Student management
• Special Education Transportation requirements
• Federal School Bus Watch Program
• Transportation Security Administration requirements
• School Transportation Security Awareness program
• First Observer Network
• Adverse weather operations
• Mountain driving operations
• Emergency evacuation procedures
• 6 hours of required job specific training each school year
School bus routes are designed utilizing the latest technology and software with regular updates provided throughout the year. This allows the district to provide the maximum customer service while ensuring maximum efficiencies. All bus stops in the district are located so as to meet or exceed CDE requirements while still meeting school board criteria and taking into consideration neighborhood concerns.
Numerous factors play into establishing a safe student stop. Transportation professionals need to consider traffic volume and speed, light and other visibility conditions, knowledge of terrain, and driver training, to name few. Careful planning is a must. When needed, transportation supervisors or safety personal will perform on site bus stop evaluations to check for safety, location, student issues and other potential problems. For more information see the Transportation Service Parameters.
The School Bus, One of the Safest Vehicles on the Road
The Transportation Department purchases all school buses on a long range plan that allows the district to ensure that the newest and safest buses are on the road and that older buses are retired from the fleet when they no longer meet ever changing federal and state safety requirements. All buses in the district fleet currently meet or exceed federal standards for safety.
School buses have been specifically designed and equipped to carry students. Therefore, they are one of the only vehicles on the road with a design that maximizes the safety for children. Every school bus seen on the road today is designed to meet tough safety criteria and standards set out by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. In terms of design, every school bus has the following features for safety:
School buses used in the United States and Canada set the standards for the color of paint to be used on the exterior of the bus. The highly distinguishable yellows and blacks make the school bus one of the most recognizable vehicles on the road. Because the colors create increased recognition, nearby traffic knows to drive with extra caution.
All school buses are equipped with flashing lights and a stop arm, which are activated whenever students are being picked up or dropped off from the bus. These signals are used to indicate to traffic approaching from both sides of the road to come to a full stop and to remain so until the indicators have been deactivated. These safe-guards are enforced with high penalties given to any driver that fails to stop for a school bus. Such an offence translates into a loss of 6 points from a driver’s license, along with a substantial fine.
School buses have devices to allow the driver to see if there are people or objects around the bus. To accomplish this, the bus design includes strategically placed mirrors that allow the driver to see 360° around the bus.
School buses are designed to protect passengers on board from impact. To accomplish this, just about every feature of this design was specifically chosen to reduce the effects of a collision. School buses are required to have increased body strength by the provision of horizontal full length impact rails located at the shoulder, cushion, floor levels and lower shirt levels. In addition to the sheer size of the bus, the floors are raised protecting the students by having them sit above the impact zone where an automobile would typically hit a school bus. The bus is further protected from side impacts with the design of the windows, shaped small enough to prevent passengers from being ejected from the vehicle.
The school bus is specifically designed to reduce the shock of impact with a moveable structure. In order to absorb the energy of a collision the bus is structured to be able to slide up to 12 inches along the chassis frame.
There are also rollover precautions put into the school bus design that reduce the risk of serious injury caused if the bus were to roll. The interior of the bus is a smooth rounded shell, free from sharp edges. The goal of this design is to ensure that the energy from an impact is absorbed by the entire body and not just certain areas. There are also various emergency exits placed on both sides of the bus, the back, and an escape hatch on the roof.
The interior of a school bus uses a design called ‘compartmentalization’. The purpose of this design is to minimize the impact and injury on students should a collision occur. To achieve this, the seats are made with high backs with padding on the front and back made from impact absorbing material. These seats have strong anchorage and are spaced closely together to create compartments. The premise of this design, backed by vast amounts of continuing research, is that if a collision were to occur, these special compartments would absorb the impact dispersing it throughout the entire body as opposed to solely the head and neck. For this reason, the compartmentalization model is generally more favored than the seat belt model.
The school bus seating capacity is based on 3 students per seat. While the majority of routes within the district do not operate at maximum capacity some routes will have some students that may have to sit 3 per seat for a short distance and time. Drivers will attempt to minimize this as much as possible by having assigned seating at the elementary and middle school level.
All our buses are maintained by a highly trained and dedicated maintenance staff. Our service intervals are at 4,000 and an annual inspection at 16,000 miles. The 4,000 mile inspections are normally lube, filters and brake inspections. The annual inspection is more intensive. The bus is brought into the bay and assigned to a certified mechanic, who will inspect every aspect of the vehicle from front to rear, top to bottom. Anything not found to be within factory spec is repaired, serviced or replaced. The vehicle is place on jacks, all wheels removed and all major components, including brakes are thoroughly inspected. This inspection normally takes 3-4 days to accomplish.