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Blog Post

Zum Safety Week

Creating Safe School Bus Environments

In honor of National School Bus Safety Week, we want to share our integrated approach to designing a safe modern school transportation system.  

Our future rides on safe school buses.

Every morning 27 million children get onboard 480,000 school buses to travel to classrooms that will prepare them, inspire them and influence who they are in the world. Every moment of that daily journey matters, and every one of those moments should ensure the safety and wellbeing of our children and our school bus drivers.

At Zum, we are reimagining school transportation to create the most positive impact for our children, communities and for the environment. And ultimately, safety is the most critical factor that figures into everything we do. It is more than teaching safety, it’s about creating a safe school bus environment — from designing and implementing technology that makes every ride safer, deploying modern vehicles with the most effective safety features and the smallest carbon footprint, and most importantly ensuring that our school bus drivers and employees make safety a priority.

As we continue to evolve our own services and solutions, we look to our community of parents, school bus drivers, school admins and policymakers to  lead the way in best safety practices. Most recently we surveyed parents and learned that only 16% said they are extremely confident about a safe trip to and from school on the bus. We, at Zum, want to be a part of the solution. We know we can do better for our children.  As we like to say, we need to rethink the ride.

"Safety has always been at the heart of everything we do.  As a mother of two myself, I know what it is like to put my children's safety in the hands of someone else to get them to and from school. That's why, since day one, our secret sauce has been to provide superior safety and service for our children by pairing passionate and skilled student transportation professionals with the support of advanced training and modern technology. We are unwavering in this commitment still today."
Ritu Narayan, CEO and founder of Zum


Highly Trained and Dedicated School Bus Drivers

We recognize that school bus drivers play an integral role in education and all our drivers recognize how important that “good morning” greeting and “good afternoon” farewell are to kids. They also recognize that in many ways they are teachers who have an opportunity to model community and kindness on the bus everyday.

“I understand how important it is for parents to feel comfortable and feel that there's a safe system in place for their child to get to and from school every day. And that's me.”
Mike, Zum School Bus Driver, Los Angeles

All our drivers receive classroom and behind-the-wheel driver training which includes resources developed with industry-leading safety experts. Topics include identifying signs of bullying or abuse, emergency preparedness, building relationships with students, strategies for driving Special Education students, social and emotional learning (SEL), and de-escalation strategies.

We also provide enhanced safety training to address the needs of students with disabilities through our partnership with SPED Safe.

"Safety is the most essential part of the school bus experience at Zum. Period. We all have the same safety responsibilities whether a school bus driver or employee."
Ketonya, Zum Safety Manager, San Francisco

Our SafeGuard program takes a 360 approach to ensure that all drivers are trained on and required to adhere to specific safety protocols before, during and after each and every ride. This program also includes the launch of a new digital pre-trip and post-trip Daily Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR), which requires drivers to submit electronic reports confirming the safety of their vehicle before and after the ride, and ensures that any vehicle in need of immediate repair is taken out of service.

SPED Safe, created by distinguished experts and leaders in special education and law enforcement to support specialized services, accommodations and modifications for students with disabilities, provides a new six module curriculum to train drivers on how to properly care for individuals with disabilities. All Zum drivers are trained on the ABCs of behavior, behavioral science and the principles of applied behavior analysis.

Smart Technology On and Off the Bus

Cloud-based software and AI have transformed virtually every industry. We order groceries, shop for clothes and participate in work meetings in ways that depart radically from how we conducted these activities only a few years ago. These same tools and technologies can infuse the student transportation system with the same flexibility, transparency and agility that we, as consumers, have come to expect from all manner of other services, while also offering the superior safety supported by real-time visibility. These tools enable us to create greater efficiencies that reduce commute times by 20%, provide the safest routes and enable drivers to focus on the road and their students.

Zum provides parents peace of mind with an app that lets them track their students’ ride and know when the bus is going to arrive for pick-up and drop-off and where they are in their journey in-between.

"The fact that, with the help of Zum’s innovative technology, we can confirm when we pick up and we drop off brings the risk of leaving a child on the bus down to zero."
Stella, Zum Safety Manager, Los Angeles

In addition to Zum’s digital platform our brand new advanced fleets are equipped with on-vehicle cameras and the Netradyne Driver safety system that captures video and audio of what’s happening on the bus. The district has access to all videos in a user-friendly interface to review for training purposes and/or to evaluate student behavior and driver interactions.

Sustainability IS safety

Sustainability and safety are inherently connected. When we are protecting our planet and our resources we are ultimately also protecting ourselves and our children for the future they’ll inhabit.

Transportation accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Over 90 percent of the nation’s 500,000 school buses are diesel buses, which emit notoriously noxious exhaust. More than 27 million children, and thousands of drivers, breathe this impure air on the way to and from school, which has a negative impact on health and academic performance, particularly for students with asthma and other respiratory conditions. That’s unsuitable and unsafe.

That’s why Zum is committed to having an all-electric fleet by 2025. In addition to reducing air pollution, electric vehicles reduce energy costs by 80 percent and maintenance costs by 60 percent. And currently we are the only 100% carbon neutral school bus company.

Next-Generation Safe

We believe that Zum is influencing new standards and shaping new dialogues on safety in student transportation and its direct impact on education.

Safer school bus environments mean better access to and achievement in the classroom for students, more peace of mind for parents, more focus on the  road and student needs for school bus drivers, and more time and resources for school admin to invest in education programs.

We imagine a world, in just a few years time, where the yellow school bus is a proud symbol globally of safety on the road.

"Safety is the mindset of everyone at Zum. We’re carrying the most precious cargo in the world - our children - so we all need to be thinking about safety at every turn."
Christopher Zondlo, Zum Safety Manager, Seattle

Celebrating Our Safety Commitments

At each of our bus yards this week, we’ll be shining an extra bright spotlight on safety at Zum with events and daily exercises.