Inside Schools: How Kane County Bus Drivers Keep Our Students Safe
Literally thousands of Kane County students begin and end their day riding a school bus. With so many kids being transported over busy streets, what are Kane County schools doing to keep your children safe? How are school districts making sure we have the best possible drivers and that those drivers are prepared to deal with all kinds of weather and road conditions?
Rigorous training programs provided by the Kane County Regional Office of Education and Kane County school districts and monthly meetings of school-transportation officials are two ways the ROE is helping every school district in the county make sure your kids get home safely.
“Our bus drivers average 40 hours of initial training,” said Andy Martin, director of transportation for District U-46. “Along with the training courses, all our drivers are required to go through mandatory drug testing, physicals and background checks to ensure that they are able to transport students safely.”
But safety training does not stop there. Bus drivers take a state-mandated yearly refresher course, conduct evacuation drills, attend district safety meetings and take additional, specialized training courses. All drivers are given random evaluations by the transportation department to ensure that all safety guidelines are being followed.
Safety is ensured through a prescribed daily routine. Each morning starts with a state-mandated pre-trip and post-trip vehicle inspection of the equipment and mechanics of the bus. During these checks, any problems are reported and addressed before students get on.
The buses undergo a full inspection every six months or 10,000 miles of service where any required maintenance work is performed.
Close attention to bus-safety issues goes all the way to the top of each school district’s transportation department. Each month, the transportation directors from every school district in Kane County gather at the Kane County Regional Office of Education to collaborate and assist one another in implementing new laws and regulations.
“Safety is at the front of our minds, and these monthly meetings are a priority to the ROE,” said Regional Superintendent Pat Dal Santo. “We are working together with the goal of transporting all students safely.”
Safety in action is just as important as the training, Dal Santo said. During their routes, bus drivers are in constant communication with the school districts. Each driver is required to give status updates during the routes, and school buses are equipped with cameras to monitor drivers and passengers as well as GPS devices so that the districts can track their buses’ locations and speed.
If an accident does occur, school bus drivers are trained to understand that passengers are their first and foremost responsibility. After assessing the situation and ensuring their passengers are safe, the drivers are required to contact both district and local authorities to inform them about the accident.
Kane County districts choose to err on the side of caution and always have paramedics come to accident sites in case anyone needs to be transported. An accident report is filed, and the district determines if the accident was preventable or non-preventable.
“School bus drivers work very hard to keep students safe during their transportation to and from school,” Dal Santo said. “With all the safety training, regulations and policies in place, they go above and beyond to ensure our students are safe. The next time you see a school bus driver, make sure to thank them for all their work and for transporting our students safely.”
About the Kane County Regional Office of Education
Led by Regional Superintendent of Schools Patricia Dal Santo, the Kane County ROE is located in Geneva and serves nine school districts. From teacher licensure assistance to professional development, the ROE’s mission is to advocate for education, provide leadership and perform regulatory functions. Learn more about the ROE’s offerings on Facebook, Twitter and by signing up for the semimonthly newsletter.