HomePartner Updates7 Ways the Right Transportation Management Technology Can Increase Student Safety

7 Ways the Right Transportation Management Technology Can Increase Student Safety

Ask any school district transportation professional about their #1 priority, and you won’t hear about saving fuel, having adequate driver coverage, or any of the hundreds of other objectives they accomplish each day. What you will hear about is ensuring student safety.

Although you can’t control every situation, as a Transportation Director there are practices as well as technology you can put in place to meaningfully impact the safety of your students as you transport them to and from school or to offsite activities.

Here are seven ways you can leverage technology to increase student safety:

1. Ensure your planned routes avoid unsafe pickup locations.

Protecting children on their way to school begins with effective route planning. The best routing systems use geospatial data to automatically identify and avoid placing stops in locations near busy intersections, railroad crossings, or streets where it would be unsafe for students to cross to get to their stop.

They also use data from the National Sex Offender Registry to ensure that bus stops are not placed near the residences of known sex offenders, helping keep students safer and reducing your district’s potential liability.

2. Be prepared to adjust routes on the fly to avoid unanticipated hazards.

Water main breaks. Unexpected road work. Downed trees. All realities that can put a wrench in your day’s routing operations. In these types of situations, it’s important to have a simple and efficient way to make immediate temporary adjustments to existing routes so that students aren’t exposed to a potential hazard.

The most robust transportation platforms make it easy to set temporary hazard zones that automatically adjust routes to avoid those areas. Once the hazard no longer exists, those systems can seamlessly revert to the most efficient route. Additionally, these powerful platforms facilitate immediate communication with drivers so they’re aware of route changes.

As you’re adjusting routes in response to an unanticipated hazard, it’s imperative to consider their impact on stop times. In the event of a reroute, parents must be alerted so they can rework their schedules to ensure their child is at the stop on time. No one wants their child to wait at a bus stop any longer than necessary, particularly in inclement weather.

Well-built transportation systems offer dispatchers integrated parent communication capabilities that make it easy to alert parents of a change. As a bonus to student safety, this maintains parents’ trust and reduces phone calls to your office.

3. Ensure the right students (and only students) are on your buses.

It’s a reality, albeit a dispiriting one, that physical hazards aren’t the only safety concerns for student transportation.

Today’s tablet and RFID scanner technology makes it easy for drivers to validate that the children boarding their buses are supposed to be there.

Modern transportation platforms generate student IDs which can then be scanned using onboard tablets. The tablet app immediately indicates whether that child has boarded the correct bus at the correct stop. Conversely, when students scan off the bus, the app indicates whether they’re disembarking at the correct stop.

The added benefit of this check-on/check-off process is the ability to quickly and accurately answer parents’ questions about the location of their child.

4. Keep your vehicles in top operating condition.

No one wants to pull a vehicle out of service or, worse yet, have a vehicle break down during a run. Ensuring your vehicles are properly maintained is a critical component of safe student transportation, and driver pre- and post-trip inspections are a core component of this process.

Many districts use paper-based checklists to support their drivers in performing inspections. However, the best transportation platforms provide an integrated, electronic means to increase driver accountability when it comes to inspections. For example, drivers can be required to take pictures as part of the inspection process or scan on-bus QR codes at each inspection zone to ensure the inspection is performed to district standards.

If an item fails inspection, modern platforms can immediately alert the transportation team. From there, the decision can be made to either substitute that bus or allow it to run the route.

Another crucial safety element is the ability to support preventive maintenance. Modern systems provide the ability to create maintenance codes that can proactively notify teams, typically in the form of email, of upcoming preventive events such as oil changes. As a result, staff are better able to schedule and complete these tasks on time, keeping buses active.

5. Ensure your drivers are keeping their precious cargo safe with hardwired GPS/telematics technology.

Drivers are our “frontline” for safe student transportation. Vehicle behavior data can provide districts with peace of mind that they’re delivering on this charter.

Fleet tracking systems provide districts with data-based insights into driver safety by capturing data on a wide range of vehicle behaviors, including speed, hard braking, rapid acceleration, harsh turns, door opens and closes, the use of amber flashers or stop arms and red flashers, etc.

Hardwired GPS/telematics technology gives fleet managers insight into unsafe behaviors so that corrective measures can be taken. They can also serve as the basis for “safe driver” programs that encourage drivers to follow district safety protocols.

6. Reduce driver distractions and ensure planned routes are followed

While paper-based route sheets used to be the norm, modern transportation platforms provide drivers with audio-only, turn-by-turn directions via onboard tablets, increasing route adherence and eliminating potential driver distractions.

Route updates are pushed directly to drivers  valuable if you’re in the midst of responding to #2 on the list above. This functionality is also a boon for substitute drivers who may be unfamiliar with the routes they’ve been called in to cover.

7. Ensure your drivers are ready and able to drive by monitoring expiration dates for physicals, certifications, and licenses.

Your drivers have worked to earn their certifications and licenses, but expiration dates left unmonitored can create issues for everyone. Additionally, drivers with expired physicals are not only a potential safety issue but, as with expired licenses and certifications, can pose a liability problem in the event of an incident.

Transportation systems that track and proactively alert transportation teams about upcoming expirations help reduce district liability, ensure all passengers stay safe, and enable districts to keep their drivers on the road.

There’s no single solution to ensure the safety of our students as they travel to and from school. However, with the help of the latest transportation technology, together we can have a significant impact on this all-important goal.

About TransAct

For 30 years, TransAct Communications has been committed to enabling districts to focus on their true mission of educating students by providing software solutions that simplify, optimize, and streamline operational and compliance tasks while reducing administrative burden.

EZTransportation, our modern, integrated transportation management platform, designed specifically for K-12 school districts, continues to deliver on this promise by enabling transportation teams to efficiently and effectively manage their transportation programs — all from within a single integrated platform — so that they can prioritize student safety, streamline day-to-day operations, and enhance driver retention.

Learn more about TransAct’s EZTransportation platform and how it can help your district improve student safety while saving time and streamlining coordination.

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