Transportation Risk Management

Transportation Risk Management Best Practices

By Matt Komac, MSGIA Assistant Director for Property & Liability Pool Operations 

and Harry Cheff, Certified School Risk Manager

Although somewhere between four to six school-age children die each year on school transportation vehicles, that number represents less than one percent of all traffic fatalities nationwide.  In fact, students are 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking a bus instead of a car.   Most importantly, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the school bus is the safest vehicle on the road, and children are much safer taking a bus to and from school than traveling by car.

MSGIA agrees with NHTSA’s position and strongly encourages the use of school buses for student transportation whenever possible; however, we understand that a school bus may not always be available and wanted to share the transportation best practices developed my MTSBA, which have been summarized below. [If this is about using private vehicles to transport students safely, I wouldn’t recommend showcasing how much safer busses are as a hook.]

Transportation of students to and from school and to curricular and extracurricular activities sponsored by the district is to be provided by the district’s transportation system in accordance with district policy.  Parents, employees, and other designated adults may be permitted to use private vehicles to transport students other than their own on field trips or other school activities only with prior approval from administration and those students’ legal guardians.  Before transporting any students, the owner of any private vehicle must complete a background check and must provide proof of sufficient liability insurance, a current registration, and a valid Montana driver’s license.  A driver may only transport the number of students as there are seatbelts in his/her vehicle. 

The use of private vehicles for district business, including the transportation of students, is generally discouraged.  Staff members should use district-owned vehicles whenever possible, scheduling activities and other transportation far enough in advance to avoid any non-emergency use of private vehicles.  No staff members may use a private vehicle for district business without prior permission from the administration. No student is to be permitted to perform district business with his/her own vehicle, a staff member’s vehicle, or a district-owned vehicle. 

 Student Self-Transportation:  Students who are practicing at a site away from the school such as a golf course, tennis court, or cooperative site should not transport themselves or other students in their own personal vehicle.  The students are participating in a district-sponsored activity, and thus their travel to the activity falls within district operations and district policy. Under these circumstances, the best practice is to provide district transportation for the students from the school to the practice.  This ensures the students arrive safely and are under district supervision during the transportation period.

If a school bus in unavailable, then it is recommended that a school employee with a valid driver’s license transport the students in a district-owned vehicle.  If as a last resort you authorize an employee or volunteer to use his or her personal vehicle for business use or to transport students, then we strongly suggest checking with your insurance provider to determine how your coverage applies to a non-owned auto.  Typically, the vehicle owner’s auto liability coverage would be primary, and thus there is no physical damage coverage for non-owned autos.  This information should be clearly relayed to the vehicle owners in advance before they agree to use their personal vehicle.

It is important that you regularly review your policies and procedures and that staff are familiar with them as well.  We have outlined what we consider to be best practices; but, ultimately, you will want to follow the policies and procedures you currently have in place.  MTSBA would be able to assist with any policy questions and changes and we would be happy to address any insurance-related questions that may arise.  We wish you all a great start to the school year.   Return to 2019 Fall Newsletter