School buses are the safest vehicles to transport students to and from school, even safer than your personal vehicle. They’re designed and built to provide protection for children in the event of an accident as well as when they’re entering and exiting the bus. That’s due, in part, to the strict safety standards dictated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The regulations for transportation within the education sector exceed those of regular buses and other commercial vehicles. Whip Around helps schools and other institutions keep up with those rules and regulations and ensures the highest level of safety for students.
That seems like a silly question, but a school bus isn’t always what you think it is. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) defines school buses as motor vehicles that are designed or used to carry more than 10 passengers plus the driver. The vehicle must also be significantly used to transport pre-primary, primary, or secondary school children from their home to school, or from school back to their home. Federal regulations are strict and complicated but Whip Around makes compliance fast, easy, and accurate.
Everything about the appearance of school buses is meant to protect riders. Highly visible yellow paint and contrasting 8″ black writing, shiny black bumpers, flashing lights, cross-view mirrors, and stop-sign arms all alert motorists to the presence of children. Protective seating, rollover protection features, and high crush standards for the body of the bus are all standard features on school buses. In fact, school buses are so safe there’s no need for students to wear safety belts or other restraints.
Students are the most vulnerable when they are getting on or off a school bus. Oftentimes they have to cross a busy road, parking lot, or other potentially dangerous areas. The flashing lights, stop signs, size and yellow paint aren’t always enough to keep them safe. Drivers are prohibited by law from passing a school bus that is dropping off or picking up passengers, regardless of which side of the road it’s on. These laws are strictly enforced and school bus drivers often have cameras to capture such illegal activity if it happens.
In the not-so-distant past education sector, bus service providers were required to keep paper records of daily inspections, repairs, maintenance, and driver information. Those important pieces of data are now required to be completed and kept digitally with what’s called a digital vehicle inspection report (DVIR). These records are used by the school bus garage employees to manage the fleet’s maintenance and repairs. Additionally, they provide critical data to the authorities and inspectors in case of an accident or other incident.
While there are plenty of DVIR solutions available, Whip Around’s DVIR mobile app is a game-changer for busy school bus operators and drivers in five distinct ways.
In order to legally operate a commercial vehicle, including a school bus, drivers are required to not only have a valid driver’s license, but also a commercial driver’s license (CDL). In order to obtain a CDL, prospective drivers have to pass a drug and alcohol test as well as a personal background check. Whip Around ensures that driver’s records are complete, up-to-to date, and easily accessible to transportation managers, inspectors, and the authorities when needed.
FMCSA regulations (49 CFR Part 396.3) require school buses to be systematically inspected for maintenance and repair issues. These actions have to be thoroughly documented. Additionally, school bus drivers are required to perform daily vehicle inspections and report on what they find according to 49 CFR 396.11. The Whip Around exclusive mobile app allows drivers to complete their inspection requirements via a customized inspection checklist. Inspections can be done anytime, anywhere, and the data is instantly updated. Everything is done electronically, making the process simple, fast, and accurate.
School buses have to be maintained properly so they are in safe operating condition. The FMSCA requires commercial vehicle fleets, like school buses, to go through a systematic preventive maintenance program. This schedule is up to the school or university transportation manager. However, the maintenance activities have to be documented according to 49 CFR 396.17. Whip Around’s maintenance technology makes developing and sticking to maintenance schedules easy and reduces unexpected repairs with reminders and alerts.
When a mechanical problem occurs, your mechanics are quickly able to find and repair the problem. Non-mechanical damage like dents, dings, and other incidents that don’t affect the vehicle’s ability to operate are also important to address. Whip Around can help pinpoint when it happened which helps train drivers on how to avoid those situations in the future. It also helps reduce the number of incidents and decreases overall operating costs. For a school, university, or college with a limited budget, that’s a good thing.
The single most important aspect of transportation in the education sector is safety. From ensuring that school bus drivers are properly licensed and screened to school bus maintenance programs, Whip Around supports these efforts. Our mobile app is designed to eliminate errors, ensures complete compliance for federal and state regulations, and saves time for drivers. All of those factors combine to create an even safer school bus fleet than the law requires.
School buses carry the most precious cargo and it’s vital that they are driven safely and that they are properly maintained and repaired. Since 1996, the federal government has been regulating school bus transportation and has established some very strict requirements and regulations. Staying aware of and keeping up with those regulations is an understandably daunting task for any transportation manager in the education sector. Contact us at Whip Around for a free demo of our mobile app and you’ll soon discover how easy it is to keep your fleet on track and on the road.