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walking bus logoThe role of the 'driver'

The role of the driver, who leads the bus, is different from that of the conductors in that they do not have an individual carriage of children to look after.  However, they have other duties and share the responsibility, with the conductors, for the safety of the whole bus.

  1. The bus driver and conductor(s) will be expected to take responsibility for the safety of the children in their care.  One or the other should remind the children of road safety and expected behaviour.

  2. The driver is responsible for keeping a register of who is expected on the bus, who joins the bus and who is delivered to the school.  The co-ordinator or Headteacher must be advised of any problems.

  3. The driver leads the bus from the front setting the pace. The driver must be in communication with the conductor(s), keep the bus together and be aware of the needs of the bus.

  4. There may be occasions when it is necessary to stop the bus to allow other pedestrians to walk by. The children should stand aside away from the kerb.

  5. In the case of a route or part of a route having no pavement the driver should consider whether it is necessary to stop the bus in order to allow traffic to pass.  By stopping, other road users will know they have been seen, can weigh up the situation and pass more easily.  It also makes the conductor(s) and children aware of the presence of other road users.

  6. The driver must follow the guidance from the route assessment and map, using the crossing points and bus stops specified and discussed in the training session.

  7. The driver is the first person to cross in order to obtain a better view and assist the conductor(s) to cross with each of their carriages, one at a time, until the bus reforms ready to move on.  There may be some crossing points where the driver will achieve a better view by being the last person to cross the road.

  8. When a difficult crossing has been identified in the route assessment or training and the number of children to cross in one carriage is considered too great, then there is an exception to the routine and a driver can assist a conductor by crossing the road with a part carriage. This ensures that the children are never left alone.

  9. The driver must not encumber or distract him/herself with pushchairs, baggage or animals. The use of a rucksack is acceptable as it allows both hands to be free to attend to the children. An umbrella can be used if it is raining but ideally should be put away somewhere safe when not in use to allow both hands to be free again. If a school wishes to use a trolley for carrying the children’s books and kit, then it is only the driver that is in control of this. It must be easy to manoeuvre and park so the driver can quickly have his/her hands free to communicate with the conductor(s) or assist with crossing.

  10. If any motorist stops to allow the bus to cross, it is vital that a check for other traffic is made as there is always the danger of vehicles overtaking or travelling along an inside /outside lane. Make sure that all vehicles have stopped before stepping into the road and be aware of cyclists and motorcyclists riding between lanes of traffic. If the driver considers that the bus is under pressure to cross, and they are not ready, they should thank the motorist and wave them on.

  11. The driver and conductor(s) do not have the authority to stop traffic in order to cross the road.

  12. If any part of the route cannot be used due to a temporary blockage e.g. road works or parked vehicles, the bus will need to divert.  Safe crossing places must be found. The walking bus co-ordinator and School Travel Plan (STP) Team must be notified prior to the change of route or as soon as possible after the journey is completed.

  13. Mobile phones should only be used for the business of the walking bus or in an emergency.  If a call has to be made or taken by the driver or conductor(s), then the bus must stop.

Image of a walking bus