I have been a bus driver since October 2006. I know the inside story, the scoop, the down low dirt of what it takes to be a bus driver, how to handle kids and adults, and how to survive on the "streets" so to speak. I have a blog, feel free to browse it or ask me a question here.
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Well, there is the logical question of, "How are we going to get 70 something kids to sit down and buckle up?" I'd be forever sitting by the side of the road trying to get the kids buckled. Then there is also the ever present question, "What about an accident?" Some little kids on the buses do not have the dexterity to push the button on the seatbelt release, therefore the responsibility falls to the bus driver. If the bus driver is incapacitated, then what? It is often thought that school buses are simply safer by using a method called compartmentalization, that is why the seats on newer buses are at least a foot taller than the older buses. Should there be an accident (excluding rolling over or tipping on the side) then the children are likely to stay in one area. Hope this answers your question.
Depending on the age of the child, we do like to see a parent/guardian/babysitter there when the child gets off the bus. Federal Law states that children under a certain age cannot be left home alone. I'm not exactly sure of the age but i think its 10 yrs old or under. Most kids have parents or someone waiting for them when they get home. We cannot be sure that every child has someone waiting for them (in cases of dropping kids off at an apartment complex), however, we can try to be sure that someone IS waiting for them and be proactive. If someone is not home to receive the child, we will typically try to call the emergency numbers (if the numbers work) and try to get someone to be available to receive the child. Occasionally, if the parents are habitual about not being home, or we cannot reach anyone through the phone numbers provided, we will take the child to the police station and let the professionals handle it.
Bullying... the quintessential problem for any person who is in the school system, be it teacher, bus driver, or even custodian. I have experienced bullying a time or two on the bus and I immediately put a stop to it. The child who is bullying gets wrote up and turned into the school for disciplinary action. I also take a look at the video tape (all our buses have cameras with vhs or digital recording) and determine if the one who is bullying is also being bullied. If that is the case, then those who are involved get wrote up. In order to prevent further bullying out of earshot of me, I often will move those students to the first 2-4 seats so that I can hear and keep a better eye out on them.
That's a good question. It really depends on the company you work for, the situation at the time of the accident, and the circumstances surrounding the incident. For something simple, non serious, as a fender bender or striking a deer/other large animal, its likely you wouldn't lose your job pending the outcome of a drug test. For something more serious where human lives are lost or there is some severe damage, it is likely you would lose your job. Again it really depends on the company. Personally, I've been in a "fender bender" situation, I did not lose my job even though I was at fault. It was a matter of lack of visibility and someone being stupid by tailgating my school bus. I went to back up and turn around, and the guy was right under my bumper - where I couldn't see him even though I checked my mirrors. I did not get cited for the accident, though I was deemed "at fault", because the other driver did not have insurance. It was an honest mistake. One thing that happens at every accident regardless of who is at fault, is a drug test.
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All the time. Parents get irritated or angry at us for one reason or another. They don't like the seat their child is assigned to sit in, their child can't sit next to so and so, their child came home with a bus citation for poor behavior on the bus. You name it, they get frustrated and angry with us. Most of the time, I am able to calm them down, but the few I cannot calm down, I invite them to call my boss and set up a meeting where their concerns can be handled appropriately. If a child is being bullied or beat up on the bus, I do appreciate a parent coming to me with a concern so that I can be aware of the bullying situation and handle it appropriately and immediately.
No, we will call or radio ahead to notify the bus shop and the school that we are going to be late. We do this so we do not get in trouble and the kids who are riding our buses can get breakfast and get to class in a reasonable amount of time as well. High schoolers especially worry about getting to class on time and the little kids usually eat breakfast at school, so we try to make accommodations for them because many of them have not eaten breakfast at home. Sometimes being late is inevitable, we have to wait on a train, accident, or other thing that holds us up.
The idea of hiring adults to act as monitors is a good idea, but sadly many school systems just do not have the money to provide this service. If a child is being bullied, I recommend that a parent take it to the bus driver and notify the bus driver, and if that does not get results, then the parent can also call the bus supervisor and get it handled from there. Unfortunately, we do not have eyes and ears in the back of our heads so unless there is a really serious situation going on, we really honestly have no idea and cannot DO anything about the situation unless the child/parent/other children speak up and let us know. Certain laws mandate that there be an aide on certain buses such as special education buses, and sometimes school districts will opt to provide a monitor or aide for buses that are particularly troublesome. As always, safety of our children is our utmost concern.
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