Risks in Transportation of StudentsA supervisor will immediately take on risk when transporting students. Identifying the most serious risks is crucial to maintaining the health and safety of students. Carlson & Skinner (2002) note many risks associated with transportation within the school setting. Children travel from school to activities and home again for various reasons. Inherent in travel is risk. The public has a perception that school transportation is safety. Thus, when accidents occur involving school buses, the link suggests something other than safety. Among the more prominent risk factors including child behavior, infrastructure design, and the use of safety equipment (Carlson & Skinner, 2002). Five categories can be extracted from these, including “human, vehicular, infrastructure or environmental, operational and societal risk factors” (Carlson & Skinner 3). The greatest risk a transportation department faces is loss of life of the people that are transported. Alternatively, loss of resources or support in the way of finances could threaten a department. This may occur if accidents happen. Thus, accidents must be prevented to help support programs that support students.

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Operational Management in Transportation
Despite evidence that there are categories where risk may be defined, there is no consensus regarding how or where risk is more likely to happen. This is because within communities there are different modes of students using transportation, and different elements that affect the human risk, the vehicle design, equipment, infrastructure and even societal factors that affect risk related to transportation (Carlson & Skinner, 2002). Because of this, a Supervisor must consider his or her own community and population when attempting to develop a risk management program.

Risk mitigation programs should first begin within each community, with an assessment process a Supervisor can oversee, where quantitative testing is performed that allowed a travel mode risk assessment to be calculated from national sources (Carlson & Skinner, 2002). Once this information is gathered, then local student transportation information and distribution of travel can be utilized to calculate risks specific to a community or even a region (Carlson & Skinner, 2002). By gathering information in this way, the risk management process becomes specific to the communities and regions where transportation risk management must take place.

The Supervisor can assign a project manager to oversee the data collection process, while also delegating certain roles to parents and students. Parents and students can become more engaged and involved in the risk management process, so they have an opportunity to understand and prioritize their needs and help mitigate risks associated with school travel. A Supervisor’s role in risk mitigation includes defining optional modes of transportation. Transportation surrounding students may also involve bicycling to school or events, and walking to school. Risk management must, then, take into consideration students that are in danger from inappropriate risk management in these areas. Children crossing busy roads by themselves without proper attendants or education are more at risk for vehicular homicide or other serious injuries than children who have escorts, or who have a way to school that doesn’t entail the use of a busy intersection. Children that bicycle to school should have the opportunity to work in conjunction with local law enforcement agents, who can teach students the rules of the road. Parents may become involved by ensuring that all students who bicycle for transportation where a helmet and other protection.

If these items of safety are not available, the school and other community agencies can work together to acquire items for donation to students in need. Students may also routinely engage in safety meetings. These meetings should focus on safety and transportation. This includes meeting with students to discuss safe bussing practices. Learning respect, and appropriate behavior while riding on a bus may help save lives, and prevent unnecessary distraction and accidents.

If special needs students ride the bus, or engage in other transportation, then the Supervisor may implement a buddy or partner system to mitigate risk associated with injuries, falls, or accidents. Many schools have paraprofessionals that work with special education students. It may be possible to have volunteers assist in the transportation of students with special needs. In this way, students and their primary caregivers do not have to worry about risks associated with accidents, falls, or other events that may harm the student while the student is going to, or coming from school or other events planned by the community.

  • Carlson, D., & Skinner, R.E. (2002). Transportation Research Board Executive Committee. The relative risks of school travel: A national perspective and guidance for local community risk assessment. Retrieved from: http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/sr/sr269.pdf