Managing risks from school transport

One of the greatest risks children face is daily travel to school. This can be by bus, car, cycling, or walking, but each poses unique hazards you’ll need to manage.

The good news is technology has made this management easier and more effective. But there are important measures to consider to ensure high safety standards at met. Here are five management tips to maximise your school transport safety strategy.

1. Getting the right operator

It’s essential your drivers understand dangers on the road. This should include an awareness of how to limit risk tasking. Health and safety advice for your operation can help improve overall safety, but there are basic regulations to keep in mind to ensure the safety of pupils.

For your bus, coach, or minibus transport, you must choose an industry-leading operator with recognised qualifications. The operator should have an excellent road safety record, modern and roadworthy vehicles, and relevant emergency procedures.

To maintain high safety standards, you can also:

  • Train your drivers to be compliant with changing laws.
  • Ensure vehicles can cater for disabled children.
  • Are capable of providing safety in dangerous weather conditions.
  • Ensure they report/intervene with any cases of bullying.

For further help there’s THINK!, which has advice on essential vehicle checks and other important road safety issues.

2. Supervise drivers

Traditionally, this has been a complex task for risk management. It’s now much easier thanks to real-time reporting tools such as GPS technology.

Setting this up will alert supervisors about any unexpected issues, such as a driver speeding, or not taking the planned route.

3. Manage transport routes

Transport routing software allows schools to plan safe routes for buses, coaches, or minibuses. The software can ensure drivers avoid security threats, such as road hazards, extensive traffic, or high crime areas.

It also includes incident reporting. As a result, schools can keep accurate records that can help to maintain, and improve on, long-term health & safety procedures.

If you like the idea, have a look at this fleet management software to compare prices.

4. Promote cycling & walking awareness

Children may cycle or walk to school if they’re not eligible for school transport (or if they live within two to three miles of the school). You may need to conduct a safety check of the route first, whether they’re cycling or walking. Parents can still claim the route isn’t safe, if they’re dissatisfied.

If children cycle to school, be aware of their route and its safety. You should also ensure they have appropriate cycling skills, the right safety gear, and a good understanding of road traffic safety.

If children are walking to school, you must consider the safety of their route, as well as their traffic awareness.

To manage their safety, you can offer Practical Pedestrian Skills Training, provide Green Cross Code training, supply high-visibility safety gear, or update their road safety education.

5. Promote car safety

If parents drive their children to school, it’s their responsibility to enforce a seat belt wearing policy. But a school must also designate parking arrangements and drop off/pick up areas.

For school opening and closing times, things can get quite frantic and dangerous, so it’s an important step to take. Communicating with parents about the safety expectations of these times is important. You can also encourage cycling, public transport, or walking to alleviate rush hour traffic.

For higher education, many students will have access to a car. Young drivers are often impressionable and more likely to speed. There are also modern distractions, such as smartphones, that can make them lose concentration.

Implementing a road safety awareness campaign can help here, so young drivers are aware of common hazards they’ll face.

Author bio
Russell Corlett is the health and safety director for Peninsula UK, a human resources business consultant with a global presence. Part of its services includes guiding SMEs through their health and safety policy procedures.

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