School Bus Safety Information for Parents

Independent Coach Corporation has in place an active and aggressive Safety Program under the direct supervision of the company’s safety director. This safety program’s daily operations are conducted with precision by the company’s safety team who are strategically placed at both of our bus yards to assure that the mission of our safety policies is implemented. In addition, under the supervision of our safety director, an accident investigation team is in place to respond to accident scenes as well as providing accident preventive information from these accidents to our drivers. Similar to most school bus companies in New York State, much of our safety operation are required to meet the mandates and regulations set forth by the following state agencies: New York State Education Department (SED), New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT). A brief description of this process and the personnel involved shall be listed below.

The New York State Education Department (SED) primarily governs the initial and continuing education of our school bus drivers and the bus attendants or matrons. First, all newly employed school bus drivers are required to attend a training course prior to them operating a vehicle. This course is called a Pre-Service course which is designed to cover some basic yet essential safety issues that a driver will face during the beginning stages of their employment. In order to conduct a Pre-Service training program, the (SED) requires the instructor to be a qualified School Bus Driver Instructor (SBDI) or be under the supervision of a qualified (SBDI). A well informed SBDI instructing the Pre-Service training course is a critical step towards school bus safety since it “sets the tone” for all the continuing driver education the school bus driver must undergo during their career. Secondly, all drivers and matrons are required to attend two (2) two hour Refresher courses per year. While the curriculum generally addresses various defensive driver related topics and assorted behavioral building techniques, it also has safety related undertones throughout many if not all of the topics discussed. Next, all drivers and matrons within their first year of employment in this industry must attend a Basic Safety Course. School Bus Drivers are required to attend a thirty (30) hour course while the matrons must attend a ten (10) hour course. This is an intense, rigorous safety course that is designed to bring out all safety concerns of the school bus industry along with the development of building quality defensive driving tactics which for all drivers will use at some point in their career. And finally, all drivers and matrons are required to pass a Physical Performance Examination. Through predetermined standards set by the (SED), this exam will challenge the driver or matron in their ability to perform their duties under normal or emergency situations. Most of these standards have been noted to be stressful to some drivers or matrons since they must be done within certain time limits. All courses listed above must be instructed by a qualified (SBDI).

The next segment to our safety program is the school bus driver monitoring system constructed by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The monitoring of school bus driver (DMV) related exams became a responsibility of a non employee of the (DMV) called 19A Certified Examiners. Generally, these employees work for their respective school bus companies. Since the school bus driver is a reflection of a school bus company and their safety practices, it is detrimental for our safety team to assure that the drivers undergo these exams thoroughly. All members of our safety team are 19A Certified Examiners. They are certified and approved by (DMV) to implement or oversee certain aspects of the 19A Regulations. These examinations are listed below:

  • Annual Defensive Driving Performance Review
  • Biennial “Behind the Wheel” Road Test
  • Biennial Oral/Written Test
  • Review of the bus driver’s Annual Medical Examination by a medical examiner
  • Annual review of the bus driver’s abstract (DMV record of driver)

In conjunction with the (SED) and their goal to provide continuing education for all drivers, New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) is responsible for aspects covered in this section. During the various stages of the bus driver’s educational process, they are instructed on the (DOT) and (SED) requirements for performing a thorough pre and post inspection of their vehicle. The driver should pay special attention to vehicle and emergency equipment, vehicle maintenance as well as the inspection for children or objects left behind.

School bus drivers and matrons are aware of the company’s goal to provide well maintained vehicles. However, it is the responsibility of the driver to note defects if any, during their pre and post trip inspections. At the beginning of driver training, all drivers will note that “the safety of our students we transport must be our deepest concern at all times”. Each school bus undergoes a detailed vehicle inspection by a (DOT) inspector initially before they are put in service and then every six months thereafter. An additional inspection of any vehicle is required by (DOT) for any school bus involved in a qualifying accident or other indications of mechanical failure. Our onsite mechanics assure that all the school buses meet or exceed the specifications.

Another division of our Safety Program is our accident investigation team. This team consists of the safety director and accident investigator. While the initial purpose of this team is to respond to accidents, provide assistance and gather information, the team is also dedicated to the development of accident prevention for our company. Members of this team believe that while an accident is always upsetting and unfortunate, it is an excellent learning experience for the driver involved as well as all the drivers of the company. To transfer critical information as to how and why an accident occurred from the scene of an accident to the ears of our drivers in a Refresher course can possibly prevent accidents in the future.

Depending on the conditions of the accident and if the accident is deemed by the accident investigation team to be preventable, the driver will undergo driver retraining to address and hopefully correct any apparent defects. Generally, most drivers will show signs of improvement and start to exhibit safer driving habits.