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
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.
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.
Aerotech from ElDorado National
Glaval's Concorde II
Lasseter Bus & Mobility