Responding to an escalation in the number school bus accidents during the current school year, the Ascension Parish School Board Policy Committee took under consideration an accountability policy for bus drivers.




 


Responding to an escalation in the number school bus accidents during the current school year, the Ascension Parish School Board Policy Committee took under consideration an accountability policy for bus drivers.

“I think it is time we hold our bus drivers accountable,” School System Risk Manager Angie Perazza told members Tuesday at the East Ascension High School meeting.

The system has experienced 20 total accidents this year, 13 in which school drivers were at fault, and seven in which they were not, according to Perazza.

Five minor accidents with less than $500 damage involving mailboxes, a fence post, and a light fixture at a store that were the fault of drivers with APSB each required a $25,000 insurance deductable payment, she said.

Perazza presented the committee information broken down into three categories: Bus accidents, fleet inventory, and driver safety and training dates that begin Nov. 3 and run through Jan. 21, 2011.

The dates Jan. 10 through Jan. 21 are mandatory driving simulator training sessions using a simulator on loan from the Louisiana Workers Compensation Corporation.

The proposed escalating accountability guidelines require that drivers receive a written reprimand after their first at fault accident, and be required to complete two stages of driver simulator training within two weeks of the accident.

A second accident results in a three-day suspension without pay, and requires three stages of driver simulator training.

Three at fault accidents in a five-year period would result in a termination recommendation.
Drivers not at fault would be required to finish one stage of simulator training. After two accidents the driver would have to complete two simulator sessions. Three accidents would result in a written reprimand and three simulator sessions.

Fourth and fifth at fault accidents would lead to escalating suspension days without pay and additional simulator training sessions. After a sixth accident in five years, termination would be recommended.

More serious offenses would be addressed on an escalated timetable under the proposal.
The school system currently has an inventory of 246 buses, including 173 regular route buses, plus spares, special route and athletic buses.

Superintendent Patrice Pujol said the committee should take a close look at drivers who accumulate no fault accidents, and hold them accountable.

Committee member Troy Gautreau said narrow roads in the parish should also be taken into account because they make bus driving more difficult.

Increased student enrollment, and growth in the parish infrastructure are other factors that make driving more difficult for bus drivers, said Transportation Director Larry Grant.