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Safety and Security & Emergency Management

In this section, we will discuss the precautions your employees can take to prevent an emergency situation from occurring.  This includes both vehicle and personal preparedness, and your system should have procedures in place to ensure that the necessary safety inspections are being done on a regular basis.  Clear and concise guidelines will make it easier for drivers to understand what is required and will make it easier for your managers to evaluate drivers’ performance. 

Vehicle preparedness

Daily vehicle inspection is an important safety element that is in your control, and if it is done properly the vehicle is prepared to safely transport passengers and is better able to respond to safety hazards that might arise throughout the day.  Vehicle inspections should take place every day before the vehicle begins its route (pre-trip),throughout the day while the driver is providing service on the route(en-route), and when a route is completed (post-trip).  Forms should be available for drivers to follow during their pre and post trip inspections. 


According to National RTAP’s START Training module, pre-trip inspections involve the following four components: 

  • The approach – assess as you approach the vehicle 
  • Under the hood – check engine fluids and components 
  • The walk around – circle the outside of the vehicle
  • On-board  – inspect on-board areas, equipment and supplies

To read more about each component, please see the National RTAP Safety Training and Rural Transit (START) training module.

To view an example of a pre-trip inspection checklist, please see this resource from the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR).

For examples of maintenance recording keeping documents (this includes resources such as sample vehicle inspection forms, pre-trip inspection sheets, post-trip vehicle defect sheets, etc.), please seethe FTA Transit Bus Safety Program resource library.

En route inspections involve the driver using his/her senses (look, listen, smell, feel) to ensure that the vehicle is performing safely, while post-trip inspections take place once the driver is exiting the vehicle for the day.  Post-trip inspections should take place when drivers change vehicle assignments, relieve another driver in service or at the end of a shift. Documenting post-trip vehicle problems allows for repairs to be made and alerts the next driver as to any issues that may be present.

The TCRP Report 86 “Hazard and Security Plan Workshop: Instructor Guide” suggests implementing the following policies to ensure vehicle security: 


  • Driver’s vehicle checklist
  • Mechanic’s vehicle checklist
  • Vehicle key policy
  • Securing vehicles during the shift
  • Securing vehicles at the end of the shift
  • Route maintenance issues
  • Prohibited items on the bus

FTA Transit Bus Safety and Security Program

The FTA Transit Bus Safety and Security Program website features a resource library that provides reports, sample forms and checklists from different states.   There you can search for documents by keyword or by topic area.  Topic areas include management, human resources, security activities, operations and maintenance, safety activities,and emergency/all-hazards management.  

The FTA Transit Bus Safety and Security Program website also has information about starting a bus safety and security program at your agency.  The Getting Started section defines first steps and provides resources along the way.  See the FTA Getting Started Guide.

For an overview of the FTA Transit Bus Safety and Security Program’s guidelines, see FTA’s “Safety, Security, and Emergency Preparedness Excellence– A Roadmap.” 

Personal preparedness

While it is important to ensure the safety of the vehicle, it is equally important to ensure the preparedness of the driver.  According to National RTAP’s Safety Training and Rural Transit training module, prepared drivers possess the following defensive driving skills:
  • The knowledge of the capabilities and limitations of themselves and their vehicle
  • The ability to survey what is on and near the road
  • The capacity to assess potential hazards and their potential impact
  • The ability to identify alternatives and make the best choice quickly
  • The expertise to safely maneuver the vehicle  

A driver’s ability to drive defensively is dependent on physical and emotional conditions. Because drivers are safety sensitive employees, they should be encouraged to maintain healthy lifestyles that allow them to be alert and prepared at work.  A driver’s ability to react quickly will be substantially reduced by fatigue, and maintaining a healthy diet and as well as healthy sleep patterns are essential to his/her ability to report to work ‘fit for duty.’  Emotional conditions, such as personal stress and passenger conflicts, can also interfere with a driver’s ability to concentrate.  Drivers can also be distracted by objects placed on the vehicle dash and communications devices such as cell phones.  Giving drivers the tools necessary to recognize conditions that interfere with concentration and helping them understand the impact distracted driving has on public safety will go along way to ensuring safety on your transit system.

 As a manager, you should make it clear that consuming anything that may affect a driver’s ability to respond to dangerous situations will not be tolerated.  This includes consumption of alcohol, some prescription medication, some over-the-counter medications, and illegal drugs

To read more about personal preparedness, please see the National RTAP Safety Training and Rural Transit (START) training module and the National RTAP Healthy Habits technical brief.

Emergency Management

The following section describes the types of hazards and threats drivers might encounter while performing their duties and gives step-by-step instructions on how to best handle an emergency situation.  As the manager, it is important to understand the steps of emergency management to appropriately support and respond to drivers' needs in emergency situations.  It is also important that your dispatchers understand the appropriate steps to take in an emergency situation as they are usually the first point of contact within your agency for drivers.  

Hazards and threats

Emergency situations can arise from any number of factors, and an important aspect of emergency management is being aware of hazards and threats.  As described in National RTAP’s Emergency Procedures training module, there are six categories of hazards and threats:
  • Accidents and incidents – this can include a passenger fall, passenger illness, vehicle breakdown, on-board fire, collision or injury
  • Acts of nature – this can include darkness,rain/snow/ice, tornado, flooding, strong winds, dust storms
  • Hazardous materials – this can be any flammable,combustible, explosive and reactive substance that is shipped by rail or truck
  • Critical infrastructure – storms and natural disasters can damage critical infrastructure such as electric power, natural gas lines, cell phone service, underground storage tanks 
  • Criminal activity – this can include disorderly conduct, theft of property, assault, commandeered vehicle homicide
  • Terrorism– these can manifest as armed attacks on board a vehicle, a hostage situation on a vehicle or at a transit agency, a bomb threat or attack,chemical/biological/radiological attack

Crisis management

If a member of your transit staff finds him/herself in an emergency situation, there are seven steps he/she can take to assess the situation and determine the appropriate actions. A prepared and appropriate response to an emergency situation will keep both staff and passengers safe.  According to National RTAP’s Emergency Procedures Training Module, the Seven Steps of Crisis Management are as follow: 
  • Protect yourself – once you are away from immediate danger, focus on your passengers
  • Assess the situation – note your location;assess any injuries to passengers and damage to the vehicle
  • Notify dispatcher/request aid – contact the dispatcher as soon as possible and report your location, type of emergency,help you need, whether you are blocking traffic and how many people are on board
  • Protect others – secure the area, if there are injuries give whatever aid you are able, and inform passengers of what is happening and how you are responding
  • Secure the vehicle – decide whether the vehicle should be moved and how best to warn traffic of your location
  • Gather incident information – take notes of what has happened, documenting as much detail as possible, and collect information from any other vehicle involved
  • Complete post-incident reports – when you are safely back at the transit facility, concisely capture all of the data  from the incident and fill out the appropriate report 

To read more about the different types of hazards and the seven steps of crisis management, please see National RTAP’s Emergency Procedures training module.

Security and Emergency Management Action Items

The following information is taken directly from an action items list established by the TSA/FTA to assist you in the steps of emergency management.  Due to the broad audience of the document, some of the items on this list may be more appropriate for your organization than others, and some items may be dependent on the type of emergency your organization is responding to.

Management and Accountability 

1.       Establish written system security programs and emergency management plans

2.       Define roles and responsibilities for security and emergency management 

3.       Ensure that operators and maintenance supervisors, forepersons, and managers are held accountable for security issues under their control 

4.       Coordinate security and emergency management plan(s) with local and regional agencies 

Security and Emergency Response Training 

5.       Establish and maintain a security and emergency training program 

Homeland Security Advisory System 

6.       Establish plans and protocols to respond to the DHS Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS) threat levels 

Public Awareness 

7.       Implement and reinforce a public security and emergency awareness program 

Drills and Exercises 

8.       Conduct tabletop and functional drills 

Risk Management and Information Sharing 

9.       Establish and use a risk management process to assess and manage threats, vulnerabilities and consequences (Note: Risk management includes mitigation measures selected after risk assessment has been completed) 

10.   Participate in an information sharing process for threat and intelligence information 

11.   Establish and use a reporting process for suspicious activity (internal and external) 

Facility Security and Access Controls 

12.   Control access to security critical facilities with ID badges for all visitors,employees and contractors 

13.   Conduct physical security inspections 

Background Investigations

14.   Conduct background investigations of employees and contractors 

Document Control

15.   Control  access to documents of security critical systems and facilities 

16.   Process for handling and access to Security Sensitive Information (SSI)

Security Audits

17.   Develop and audit program 

For more information on each of these steps and resources for each topic, please see the TSA/FTA Security and Emergency Management Action Items for Transit Agencies website.

To read the FTA Emergency Preparedness Guide for Transit Employees on and Job and at Home, please click here.

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