Resources & Insights

Preventing School Bus Accidents, During DST and All Year Long

March 20, 2017

There are plenty of reasons to hate daylight savings time, though perhaps teachers, school administrators and parents whose children get to school via bus have the best reason of all.

CCIG’s Joaquin Escobar.

Every time we spring forward, there are more school bus accidents and students wandering around the streets in the dark.

It doesn’t help that these kids are already sleep-deprived; a Centers for Disease Control study found that 68.9% of students weren’t getting the recommended eight hours of sleep. Grown-ups aren’t getting adequate amounts of sleep, either.

All of this makes those of us in the insurance world nervous. Unfortunately, we can’t tell you or your children when to get to bed and the kids, we imagine, won’t like the idea of wearing reflective clothing.

The good news, if it can be termed “good,” is that fatal school bus accidents are rare. Fewer than 10 percent of the 1,353 people killed in such crashes between 2003 and 2012 were the actual occupants of a school bus.

Still, try telling that to the families.

All of this brings us to the issue of selecting and training a driver.

If you operate a preschool or charter school, beyond providing safe, well-maintained vehicles, you must be certain to carefully hire and train your drivers.

Age, experience, and a clean driving record are all important considerations. Anyone driving passengers for your organization should hold a valid driver’s license that complies with the licensing requirements of your state’s Motor Vehicle Department.

Ideally, drivers should be at least 21 years old, have at least five years of driving experience, with no violations or accidents for the past three years.

Before you hire drivers, you should:

  • Carefully check references from previous employers.
  • Order Motor Vehicle Reports (MVRs) for the driver. The MVR lists all moving violations and serious accidents the driver has had in the past 3 years.
  • Make sure your employment applications include a question about the applicant’s experience driving vans or buses.
  • The application should also include a spot for the applicant’s driver’s license number and the state that issued it. A copy of the driver’s license attached to the application is a good method for gathering the necessary information for those employees who may be required to drive. If an applicant cites experience driving vans or buses, take care to check their references and document, in writing, what you find.

When it comes to training, be sure to give each driver your facility’s written policies and requirements, and review them during orientation to be sure they are clearly understood.

You can also give drivers additional driving practice during orientation, and include a defensive driving course.

You might ask state police, local law enforcement, or highway patrol officers to make a presentation to your drivers that reviews the major causes of accidents in your area, and gives some helpful tips about accident prevention and defensive driving techniques.

Some organizations use a Driver Awareness Program periodically during the year as a method of ongoing training. Others offer incentive bonuses for safe driving. Whatever method you use, make sure you devote enough planning to it. The key to accident prevention is planning ahead.

The National Safety Council offers many safe-driving courses, including one specifically geared toward school bus drivers.

Finally, be aware that the U.S. Department of Transportation now mandates drug and alcohol testing for all employees who drive commercial vehicles. Commercial vehicles are those designed to transport 16 or more passengers, or those with a gross weight of over 26,000 pounds. Specifically, the rule applies to all drivers who have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), even if a facility has only one such driver. The rule also applies to volunteers.

Drug testing should be used in the applicant screening process, or at the very latest before the employee first climbs into the driver’s seat of one of your buses.

Joaquin Escobar, an Insurance Advisor at CCIG, handles the risk management and insurance needs of commercial childcare and school accounts. Reach him at 720-212-2054 or

CCIG is a Denver-area insurance brokerage with the full-service capabilities of a national brokerage. We do more than make sure you have the right policy. We also help you manage your long-term cost of risk with our risk and claims management expertise and a commitment to service excellence.

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