Recommended Emergency Plans for School Bus Fleets

Local child care programs that provide transportation services need a plan that clearly defines the roles of all staff when an accident or other emergency occurs. Program directors and transportation staff can use the recommendations listed in this tip sheet when establishing emergency procedures, specifically, vehicle evacuation.

Serious threats to pupils transported in school buses can be posed by occurrences such as riots, strikes, tornadoes, earthquakes and snowstorms. In some cases an entire student body must be transported to a different location. Hazards can be encountered not only in evacuation of the school area but also along routes to the pupils' homes or temporary shelter.

Based on a study of problems that relate to the regular and safe transportation of school pupils, the Executive Committee of the National Safety Council's School Transportation Section recommends the following:

  1. That all school bus fleet administrators establish procedures in their respective fleets for handling emergencies such as collisions, riots, strikes, sabotage, natural phenomena, and clinical contamination of a school or the need to evacuate a school for any reason.
  2. That the cooperation of local agencies (police, fire, civil defense, etc.) be secured and coordination of efforts be established in the best interests of pupil safety.
  3. That emergencies be catalogued by type and that locations be identified where each type might occur.
  4. That careful evaluation be made of the likelihood that various emergencies might arise and that lines of authority be established with the cooperating agencies that would provide assistance in each case.
  5. That various communication methods, such as radio, cellular phone, etc., be evaluated as alternatives to the telephone in the event telephone lines are destroyed during an emergency.
  6. That reasonably accurate estimates be made of available personnel resources and equipment as well as the time required to assemble them at any given location.
  7. That a plan be established to provide for mentally and physically challenged students in emergency situations.
  8. That all persons involved in the emergency response, such as school and transportation department employees, parents, and students be informed of all operational procedures.
  9. Periodically review and practice all emergency situations.

The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services has prepared an Emergency and Rescue Procedures manual. This manual was developed to be used as a guide by school districts or states in preparing an emergency plan. A copy of this guide can be obtained from the State Director's Association.

Although the information and recommendations contained in this publication have been compiled from sources believed to be reliable, other or additional safety measures may be required under particular circumstances.

Revised, School Transportation Section, March, 1998

Recommended Emergency Plans for School Bus Fleets. National Safety Council. 1998. English.

Last Reviewed: May 2008

Last Updated: August 7, 2015