As a school district official, when you think of your students’ academic success, your first concern is probably your curriculum or your lunch programs. Quality food and a well-balanced and innovative study program are the main ingredients in the recipe for good grades. While both of these things undoubtedly matter, it’s important to also consider the role of your district’s student transportation services—that’s right, your pupils’ bus rides.


These rides serve as bookends to your students’ school sessions; they represent how your district desires its charges to start and end their days. Because your school bus driver is such a big determining factor in how these rides go, he or she plays just a big a role in your district’s academic success.


Below, Northstar Bus Lines, a Maple Grove school bus contractor, examines the relationship between professional bus drivers and student academic performance in further detail.

What Do the Numbers Say?

Of course, we wouldn’t take so much faith in the power of bus drivers if we didn’t have the data to back it up! Countless studies have been conducted that quantify the role of talented drivers in the welfare and success of their students.


Curious about the numbers? Let’s sit down for a little statistics lesson.


●        According to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS), there are an estimated 500,000 professional school bus drivers in the U.S. as of 2018. For context, the entire population of the state of Wyoming is around 579,000. The American population of professional school bus drivers isn’t small! Such a large group that interacts with students day in and day out is bound to have some sort of collective impact on those students’ morale and those students’ willingness to try in school.

●        According to the National Highway Traffic Association (NHTSA), 94% of light vehicle crashes are caused by driver error. The term “light vehicle” in this study does not refer to school buses, but rather to smaller cars. It’s also important to note that the licensing process for those who work in school bus services is much more extensive than those who simply desire a standard driver’s licence. That being said, the NASDPTS takes the position that professional school bus drivers play a similar crucial role in protecting their students on the road, as all school buses must meet state and local standards for construction and necessary periodic maintenance. Without the vigilance of professional bus drivers, school buses wouldn’t have earned the title of “safest vehicle on the road” from the NHTSA. Of course, it goes without saying that safe students are successful students.

●        According to the NHTSA, students are 70 times more likely to arrive to school safely if they take a school bus instead of a car. Yes, this could be due to school buses’ standardized tough exteriors and innovative crash-protection techniques, but given the aforementioned statistics, it is also reasonable to think that school bus drivers are largely responsible for this.


Numbers can’t lie, and in this case, the numbers emphasize the role that talented professional school bus drivers play in your students’ academic welfare. It’s common sense that safe, well-taken-care-of students have the resources they need to study hard and achieve great things—and taking care of your students both starts and ends with your district’s bus drivers.

The Impact that the Numbers Can’t Capture

Of course, we all know that, as truthful as numbers are, they can’t tell the whole story. It’s awfully difficult, after all, to quantify emotions or morale! However, theories in the field of psychology and sociology may give some insight to the impact of school bus drivers on the behavior of the children they care for—and what those children learn from their bus rides.


●        Children can learn through social interaction. The social learning theory, based on the work of psychologist Albert Bandura, suggests that children can learn any given behavior through observing others—peers and adults alike—and imitating them. When it comes to school bus services, this means that a kind, jovial bus driver provides a point of reference for a student to model similar positive attitudes from.

●        Cultural attitudes can influence what children learn. Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky proposed that the culture that children exist inside of can direct the rules that those children abide by. Talented bus drivers will create a calm, safe, and orderly culture among their charges when it comes to riding the bus, which can put students at ease.

●        Children can learn through reinforcement. Other psychologists propose that children learn strictly through discipline, reward, and association. Talented bus drivers will help their students learn safety rules by enforcing clear safety policies and not hesitating to take disciplinary action.


A positive attitude, a safe environment, and a clear understanding of safety rules are all things talented bus drivers can provide. In the classroom, all of those, as intangible as they are, set students up for success.

Hire Quality Group Transportation Services for Your District: Contact Northstar Bus Lines Today

We’re a Maple Grove school bus contractor dedicated to creating and maintaining talented, welcoming drivers. Get the most out of your school bus services today and give us a call at 763-425-2542.