One of the best parts of my job is that I often get to speak with clients who have had particular success using our software in their school districts. It’s always a good feeling to know that we’ve helped someone out, made someone’s day a little easier. In these posts, I’ll tell some of my favorite stories – true stories – of conversations with K-12 clients.
There are few things like a complaint of harsh braking or improper bus driver behavior to turn an average day in a school transportation office into a giant headache. The real problem is that complaints about drivers are hard to prove, and tend to deteriorate into cases of he-said-she-said.
This problem came up at a school district I spoke with recently – a school district that uses transportation management software, including a GPS system which collects data like speed and direction of travel. On the day in question, a concerned parent called this district’s transportation office and said that her daughter’s glasses broke when she was whipped around by excessively fast braking. She demanded that the district punish the driver and pay for the cost of new glasses.
Before installing the GPS, there was no way that this district could have avoided paying for the glasses. But luckily, they were able to go back into their driving records to double-check this claim. The district ran a report on the driver’s braking incidents from the previous three weeks. Data collected by the GPS device showed that in the three weeks prior to the incident, the driver never once met the requirements for harsh braking at normal sensitivity (.5 G-force), but did have one recorded moment of harsh braking if measured with high sensitivity (.38 G-force). This could be a concern – maybe that was the incident in question. So they looked even closer at the data, and found the exact time and location of the high-sensitivity harsh braking incident. It showed that it happened after the student was dropped off, and that it was at a busy two-way intersection. This type of brake event would be expected at that type of busy intersection and was not alarming at all. The information clearly showed that the driver was not at fault, and the district was not responsible for the cost of the glasses.
A few weeks later, another incident occurred at this same district in which a student called his parent from the bus, claiming that his bus driver was breaking every rule in the book on his ride home: slamming on the brakes, excessively slow driving, going off route – the works. His parent, obviously concerned, called the police and had them waiting at the bus stop!
Now here’s where it gets good. The district’s transportation managers ran a quick report to figure out what was going on. Using the GPS reports, the transportation managers were able to determine that no harsh braking had occurred, and no inappropriate speeds. The poor bus driver admitted that she had indeed missed a turn and temporarily gone off route, which she explained was because multiple students on the bus, including the boy who had called his mother, were harassing and distracting her. Though she missed the turn, she explained that by turning at the next street, she was able to get back on route without adding unnecessary mileage. The GPS information confirmed this. The school realized that the student who made the call had been playing a prank, and took appropriate actions.
Those are both crazy stories, and I love knowing that twice in a row, data was able to help out the bus drivers and transportation managers at this district.