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4-07: Staff trained for emergencies
4-20: Individualized health services plans
6-06: Safety on out-of-school trips
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Governors Highway Safety Association
Promotes occupant protection; addresses impaired driving; speed enforcement; and school bus, pedestrian, and bicycle safety.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (US Department of Transportation)
Information on child safety restraint systems, training for child passenger safety technicians, and on laws and regulations governing transporting children. The "Child Passenger Safety" pages include information on transporting children with disabilities, and school bus safety.
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6-17 - A plan for safe school bus transportation

Develop and implement a plan that promotes safety for bus transportation. Include driver qualifications, student and bus driver transportation equipment, emergency provisions and plans, loading/unloading procedures, staff-child ratios, vehicle maintenance schedules and provisions for special events, special routes, and for children with special needs. Follow legal guidelines as well as local and state regulations and laws.


A transportation plan provides a process for schools to determine needs of students and drivers. Adherence to a transportation plan that is designed to optimize safety will protect staff and students from harm, prevent injuries and help to avoid delays.


Federal, state, and local regulations and policies must be implemented, enforced, and augmented by best practices to ensure optimal safety. For loading and unloading, have students do the following: stand at least 10 feet from the edge of the road, wait for driver's permission to load, take caution against catching clothing and drawstrings on bus handrails when exiting, and cross in front of bus where they can be seen by the driver.

Drivers need communication devices so they can communicate to a central dispatcher in the event of an emergency or atypical situation. Provide equipment for students with special health care needs. Safety seats and restraints, wheelchairs, and wheelchair tie down systems must meet the specific safety needs of students of various heights, weights and positional needs. Inspect these regularly and make needed repairs.

Ensure that transportation needs specified in students' individualized plans are met. Train personnel and familiarize them with procedures necessary to evacuate students in wheelchairs and child restraints as well as students with a range of behavioral and communication problems. School districts should involve police, fire, and emergency medical services personnel in evacuation training exercises. Bus routing schedules should minimize transportation time as excessive hours on a school bus can compromise sleep, study hours, and extra-curricular activities. Students picked up first in the morning could be dropped off first in the afternoon.

Use only well-maintained vehicles that have passed regular and consistent inspection and comply with "National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures" (75). Train transportation staff to address child passenger safety precautions, including use of safety restraints, handling of emergency situations, defensive driving, child supervision responsibilities, and education of students.

Take drivers' age and experience into account when hiring. Laws, rules, regulations, policies and procedures on driver qualifications, including a health and mental health assessment, are determined by each state and addressed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA offers a training and certification program for child passenger safety (called "NHTSA Standardized Child Passenger Safety Technician Training and Certification Program"), which includes a module for school bus safety. NHTSA also addresses: behavior management on the bus; various passenger disabilities and health conditions; securing wheeled mobility devices; transporting infants, toddlers, and preschoolers; emergency evacuation procedures; and routing and scheduling.


American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Injury and Poison Prevention. School bus transportation of children with special health care needs. Pediatrics. 2001;108:516-518.

American College of Emergency Physicians, Trauma Care and Injury Control Committee. School bus safety. Ann Emerg Med. 2000;36:179-180.

Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. Pub L No. 101-336; 1990. Available at:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Guideline for the Safe Transportation of Pre-school Age Children in School Buses. 1999. Available at:

National School Transportation Association. Specifications and Procedures 2000 Revised Edition, Missouri Safety Center, Central Warrensburg, MO; 2000.

National Transportation Safety Board. Pupil Transportation in Vehicles Not Meeting Federal School Bus Standards. Washington, DC: National Transportation Safety Board; 1999.

US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Highway safety guideline No. 17-pupil transportation safety. In: Uniform Guidelines for State Highway Safety Programs: Highway Safety Program Guideline Numbers and Titles. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; 2001. Available at:

US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and Regulations. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; 1999. Available at:

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