Safety in student transportation demands unwavering attention. The primary goal of any school bus contractor or transportation director is to ensure students arrive at their destinations safely, on time, and ready to learn – and while fleet management may not be the most high-profile aspect of a student transportation program, we think it has everything to do with great service and student safety.
Let’s examine the connection between fleet management and student safety, and how top-tier school bus contractors can leverage various aspects of fleet management to create benefits for students.
How does fleet management enhance student safety?
1. Fewer mechanical failures
Mechanical failures on school buses not only create frustrating and time-consuming situations for drivers, students, parents, and school administrators – they also contribute to safety risks.
Proper fleet management includes building out and adhering to rigorous inspection and preventive maintenance schedules. Timely inspections, proactive service, and prompt repairs help fleet managers identify and address potential mechanical issues before they become problems.
Drivers also play a key role in preventing breakdowns, through pre-run inspections. From brakes to tires, lights to electrical systems, school buses undergo careful scrutiny each day before they hit the road. These detailed inspections draw on the expertise of engaged employees who know their vehicles inside and out, helping to maintain buses in optimal working condition and keep students safer during their rides.
2. Upkeep of safety systems
Of course, we’re all familiar with safety features like emergency exits, lights, and stop arms. But fleet vehicles also include an increasing number of high-tech safety aids, such as door entry sensors, digital camera systems, RFID entry cards, and telematics, among other possible features.
Appropriate fleet management ensures that all of these safety systems – mechanical and electronic – are kept in top working order. By combining regularly scheduled inspections with a highly trained and equipped team of technicians, fleet managers can enhance the overall safety of students, whether those students are onboard or moving through the “danger zone” associated with boarding and disembarking.
3. Better regulatory compliance
School buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road1, which comes as no surprise when you consider the “precious cargo” they carry. Strict compliance with safety rules and regulations – across federal, state, city, and district levels – is a non-negotiable aspect of fleet management.
School bus contractors and their fleet managers play a crucial role in ensuring regulatory compliance within their operations, creating positive impacts in a number of areas, including:
- Policies and procedures
Fleet managers help establish internal policies and procedures that align with student transportation regulations. They outline guidelines for drivers, technicians, and other personnel involved in day-to-day operations, and help develop training programs that address regulatory requirements. These combined efforts help the entire team stay current on regulations as well as any individual compliance obligations, all contributing to a safer ride for students.
- Recordkeeping and documentation
A key aspect of fleet management is maintaining accurate, up-to-date documentation as required by regulations. This includes driver records, vehicle maintenance logs, inspection reports, and detailed information about any accidents that may occur. These records serve as evidence of compliance and offer important details during inspections or audits.
4. Timely resolution of recalls and safety bulletins
School buses are considered the safest form of motor vehicle transportation in the US. Even so, recalls of vehicles or equipment do occasionally happen, usually for one of two reasons2:
- When a vehicle or item of equipment does not comply with an applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS).
- When a defect in a component creates an unreasonable safety risk.
Proper fleet management includes staying informed about recalls and safety bulletins issued by manufacturers. When fleet managers promptly address any issues identified by a manufacturer, they’re mitigating potential safety risks and demonstrating a commitment to a safer onboard experience.
Student safety is a team effort
Building improvements like these into a student transportation program is a team effort that requires engagement from all stakeholders. By prioritizing fleet management as a key safety feature, contractors are better equipped to provide safe, reliable access to education for all students.
If you are a student transportation provider seeking resources for fleet management, reach out to us. We’re ready to build a path to partnership.
American Student Transportation Partners (ASTP) is a national network of reliable student transportation providers. We’re driving the future of student transportation by providing access to education through safe, reliable student transportation programs. Exceptional bus operators choose ASTP because of our innovative approach to partnership, as well as the resources we provide to help “future-proof” their operations.
To learn more about partnering with ASTP, contact Tod Eskra, President, at [email protected] or call (314) 560-5946.