Orlando, Fla. — Getting ready for that time of the year when the cute yellow buses reappear in our morning commute, a few questions arise among those who are running or planning to start a business as providers of private school transportation.
In the State of Florida, a privately owned and operated multi-passenger van designed and used to transport more than 10 persons for compensation falls within the definition of a bus that is exempt from the safety belt requirements of section 316.614. However, a van designed for cargo that is retrofitted or altered to accommodate transportation of more than 10 persons is not a bus and must be equipped with safety belts.
A recent study of the National Transportation Safety Board concludes that "nonconforming buses," or vehicles that may meet the federal definition of a bus, but not the federal occupant crash protection standards of school buses, put children at greater risk of fatal or serious injury in the event of an accident.
The following video examines three crashes in Chesterfield, New Jersey, Port St. Lucie, Florida, and Anaheim, California that have provided the NTSB with valuable information about school buses, compartmentalization, and seat belts.
School buses are designed with a form of occupant protection called compartmentalization. Seats are designed with high seatbacks, closely spaced apart, with energy absorbing properties – this creates a compartment to protect the young passengers.
“NTSB has found that compartmentalization works well to protect children in frontal and rear impact crashes, but, in some side-impact or high-speed rollover crashes, compartmentalization is not enough to prevent injuries,” said NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart. “This is because the seatback does not prevent motion from side-to-side or up-down. In those very rare instances, for some children, a seat belt could have reduced injuries and even saved lives.”
That said, if you are starting your own business on school transportation you will need to consider several things before starting.
You must decide what type and size of vehicle you will need. Mini-vans are easy to handle but may restrict you on the number of passengers you are able to service. Small buses can carry many passengers but may require special licensing to operate.
Also, you will need a clean driver's license and possibly a chauffeur's license and background check and of course you will need insurance on your vehicle and possible commercial vehicle insurance and licenses.
Very important: When hiring drivers, conduct a thorough drug screening and background check. Professional services are available for drug and background checks. Most states require you get fingerprint clearance if you are going to work with children.
You must secure liability insurance to cover your vehicles, your employees, and passengers. Speak to your insurance agent about state requirements. The majority of states require a liability insurance coverage in the range of $500,000 to $1 million for transportation services.
This is an amazing time! Kids will have mixed feelings as they’ll miss their extended playtime during their summer holiday, but look forward to new friends, new experiences and that includes the vital experience of getting back to their after school destination safe and sound, thanks to you!
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