Child restraint use on school buses is recognized as a best practice necessity nowadays. School districts regularly transport children with special needs who must ride in child safety restraint systems, and in some districts infants ride to school programs with their teenage moms. Additionally, the law requires that the nearly 1 million children in Head Start programs (including Early Head Start and Migrant Seasonal Head Start) all ride in an appropriate CR. These students are mostly 4 years old or younger, and may be as young as 6 weeks.
All these children who are under 5 years in age or have certain special needs cannot be adequately protected by the compartmentalization designed to protect larger school bus occupants. Because all of these young children ride on school buses, there is a great need for people from the school transportation and CPS fields to collaborate to develop appropriate transportation solutions.
The best way for a CPST to gain practical knowledge in the school bus field is to develop relationships with key individuals in a school district transportation department and begin working with the district or program to provide needed assistance. However, before that can happen, some groundwork needs to be laid. CPSTs have important knowledge that can be applied to the school bus setting, but additional training beyond what is provided in the standardized CPS certification course is also essential.
The first step is to attend the NHTSA CPS on School Buses National Training. This standardized training reviews basic CPS information covers details specific to school buses, and also provides opportunities to practice installation on real school bus seating. These 8-hour courses are offered occasionally around the country, most often in conjunction with a major school bus or CPS conference. The Safe Ride News Publications website, www.saferidenews.com, keeps an ongoing list of upcoming courses when details are provided by the organizers. (To alert SRN of an upcoming course, click here).
Attending an annual school bus safety conference, such as the School Transportation News (STN) Expo, is another excellent way to build a great foundation. Conferences often feature breakout sessions with subject tracks such as Special Needs, Safety and Security, and Head Start. Often a trade show is part of the conference, which allow attendees to visit with the makers of school bus safety equipment. Representatives of the major safety vest, school-bus-specific CR, and school bus seating manufacturers are typically on hand with demos of all the current equipment options.
There are also other ways to supplement training and experiences. Safe Ride News offers the School Bus Safety Handbook, which is a handy resource book that covers details ranging from school bus specifications to maintaining a CSRS inventory to proper CSRS usage. Safe Ride News also has a CEU-approved PowerPoint presentation called “The School Bus Challenge.” NHTSA has posted excellent training videos on CSRS on school buses in English and Spanish (see link below.)
We at Safe Ride News Publications strongly urge any CPST with an interest in lending CPS expertise to this industry to take the national training for CPS on school buses and to consider attending a pupil transportation conference. CPSTs have so many skills that are urgently needed in the school bus industry, but transporting students on a bus requires specialized training and insight, so a solid grounding in the student transportation milieu is essential. This grounding extends beyond knowledge of technical issues and should incorporate an appreciation of the complex dynamics of moving many students from place to place.
School Bus CPS Resources for CPSTs:
CPS on School Buses National Training
A list of training dates nationwide is kept at www.saferidenews.com. See "School Bus Training Courses" under “CPSTS/Professionals,” then “School Bus Safety.” To alert SRN of an upcoming course, click here.
Annual School Bus Conferences
• National School Transportation Conference on Transporting Children with Disabilities and Preschoolers, www.tsdconference.com (2013: March 8-13, Frisco, Texas)
• STN Expo: Reno, NV, www.stnonline.com/expo (2013: July 20-24)
• NAPT Annual Summit, www.NAPT.org (2013: October 19-24, Grand Rapids, Michigan)
• School Transportation News, free industry magazine, www.stnonline.com
• School Bus Safety Handbook, resource for choosing and using CRs on buses, www.saferidenews.com
To sign up for the CPS for School Buses listserv, send an email to: CPSforSchoolBusesfirstname.lastname@example.org.
Another free, online social network for school bus professionals can be joined by going to: http://www.stnonline.com/social
NHTSA Informational Video
Free, online training videos in subject-specific modules, available in English and Spanish.