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Bus Ministry Safety
By: Allen Cook

When dealing with a bus ministry for a church, volunteers need to be carefully selected, screened, and trained. The policy of having two people present at all times when working with children is vitally important in the bus ministry.

Except in extreme circumstances, the driver should not count as one adult the driver's job is to drive the bus, not deal with the children. Security cameras are available that can be mounted in a bus. If your church can afford one, I feel it is a good investment.

The two areas of safety that will be discussed within this article are the bus driver and the bus.

The Bus Driver
The bus driver needs to be subject to the same application and process as other children's workers. In addition to that, special attention needs to be given to his driving record and bus driving experience.

It may not be necessary for the potential driver to have a perfect driving record, but it should be free of serious violations. A driver with alcohol-related violations or numerous speeding violations would not be a prime candidate to drive a church bus full of kids.

The church needs to have written guidelines to determine which violations will disqualify a person from driving the bus. The company that provides your bus insurance may have some very specific guidelines as to who they will cover in the church bus.

Anyone who has ever driven a bus full of children will agree that it is much different from driving a car. There are a variety of things that can distract a driver. The driver should have some experience driving a bus before being given a load of children.

I have spoke to some churches that administer a driving test to the potential driver using the church bus before allowing them to drive children.

The Bus
Any bus that is used to transport children must be maintained well.

A church that has a bus ministry needs to have a maintenance and inspection schedule that is followed. If possible, only a qualified mechanic should be allowed to work on the bus. People in the church may do some minor things like changing the oil or checking fluids after they have been shown what is expected.

Of special interest should be the tires and brakes. I have experienced driving a bus both when a tire blew out and when the brakes failed. Both incidents were very frightening when they happened. Fortunately, nobody was injured in the incidents, and no other vehicles were involved.

The inside of the bus needs to be inspected as well. There should be no sharp edges on the stairs, floors, or seats. Seats need to be attached to the floor securely. (Yes, I have been on buses where one bolt held a seat in place.)

There must be a fire extinguisher, emergency triangles, and a stocked first aid kit in the bus.

The back emergency exit door must be operational, unlocked, and not blocked.

If the bus driver or a worker on the bus does not have a cell phone, the church needs to assign one to the bus.

Finally, keep the bus clean inside and out. Your bus has your church name on the side, so you want it to give people a good impression of your church. Also, a clean inside will help to eliminate tripping issues.

As stated before, written policies need to exist. Those involved with bus ministry need to be familiar with them.

There are very few bus accidents that are minor. Because of the size of the bus, number of people on it, and lack of seatbelts (on must buses), the chances for an injury is greatly increased. Errors in judgment by the driver or mechanical failure that may be overlooked in a personal vehicle are often very unforgiving on a bus.

Product Roundup

Aerotech from ElDorado National
The Aerotech is a safe, comfortable and dependable transportation choice.  It is available in a variety of lengths and configurations to meet all transportation applications. Aerotech meets all applicable ADA requirements and is available with a front or rear lift, allowing flexibility to customer needs. Aerotech is built in an ISO 9001:2000-certified commercial vehicle manufacturing facility and completed 7-year/200,000 mile life cycle test at Altoona. www.enconline.com

ChurchBus.com is a division of Midwest Transit Equipment.  They are a Christian-owned company that offers a large inventory of 15-passenger (non-CDL) and 25-passenger buses that are ready for quick delivery. They also carry buses with special needs accessibility. Financing and "no money down" leasing programs are also available. They have a dedicated sales team that represents more than 50 years of pastoral experience and many years of bus experience. This has proven to be very helpful in understanding the transportation needs of churches. www.churchbus.com

Glaval's Concorde II
Glaval's Concorde II is built on the rugged Ford F-650 airporter-style chassis with a Cummins engine and 2200 Allison transmission. Its full air suspension and 22.5" wheels give you an unsurpassed ride and driving experience. The rear kneeling feature makes accessing luggage compartments a breeze. With sleek, aerodynamic styling, seating up to 40 passengers, a front upper panoramic window for better viewing, and durable "steel-cage" construction, the Concorde II is brawn and beauty, built for a long service life at an economical price.

Collins MFSAB
Collins has a safer alternative to 15-passenger vans. Available in a variety of models and floorplans, all of the Collins MFSABs (Multi- Function School Activity Buses) feature a reinforced, galvanized steel body for protection in both head-on and side-impact collisions.
Collins MFSABs also offer a smooth, sturdy ride for added comfort and safety.  There is no commercial driver's license required for many models. 

Lasseter Bus & Mobility
Lasseter Bus & Mobility specializes in the sales and service of all sizes of commercial and school activity buses, featuring ElDorado National, Collins, Turtle Top, Startrans, and General Coach.  Based in suburban Dallas, Lasseter Bus & Mobility has been servicing the diverse transportation needs of churches and Christian schools for 20 years.  Many models are kept in stock for immediate delivery, or you can order a model equipped to meet the most unique requirements of your organization. 

Master's Transportation
Master's Transportation specializes in the sales, leasing and servicing of new and late-model Van Terras (15-passenger van replacement), people movers, shuttles, coaches, and school buses. Churches can choose from more than 100 new/late-model buses in stock, or Master's can customize a new vehicle to meet a church's needs from one of the company's five bus manufacturers. 

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