Yes it is that time of the year again when the white stuff falls from the sky and half the people say “Ohh isn’t that pretty” and the other half go “ugh time to clean the driveway”
It is also the time of the year when the bus drivers are watching the sky almost as much as the weather people. We have to be alert at a moment’s notice to take the children home from school in the case of a sudden blizzard. We had a good snowfall a couple of weeks ago and I watched experienced drivers turn into novices who were dangerous because of the snowfall.
The golden rule when there is any kind of slippery stuff on the ground is to take it easy. Slow down and allow yourself plenty of time to stop. The professional driver will double the gap from the car in front of them to allow for sudden braking and to give themselves time to react and stop safely. There have been way too many accidents caused by drivers following to close behind a school bus. My district had almost a dozen last year caused by someone being too close to the bus in front of them and not being able to stop. Please give us room. If you are too close behind it also means that we are not able to see us. Remember if you are unable to see the side mirrors of a bus then the driver cannot see you.
We had a goodly amount of snow here a couple of weeks ago and while it was nice to see it on the ground it did cause chaos when it came time for the kids to get to school. The number of cars that were on the roads seemed to double around the school and everyone seemed to be letting their kids out in the middle of the street. Please do not do this. If you are taking the kid to school at least drop them at the curb. The school bus is still the safest way to travel to and from school even in the bad weather that we get here every year. The volume of cars that were around the schools simply made our life harder. I saw everything that day from kids running out in front of the bus to get to their parents car to the adult getting out of their car that they had stopped in the middle of the road and walking into the school to collect their child and holding up traffic for ages. (Yeah I was stuck next to that one) It all made for a very careful drive for me my eyes constantly moving from mirror to road and back again. That day I don’t think I got over 15mph and I was glad because at times while taking bends in the road I could feel the bus wanting to slide and I did the sane thing and got off the power. Yes my trip took longer than expected but all my kids got home safely and I didn’t have to call base with the ever hated “I need to be pulled out of a ditch” or the even better “I just hit something” Both of those happened that day.
Even professional drivers can make mistakes and the difference then is how we deal with them. I have lost track of the number of times I have been asked my advice on what I would have done in a situation. All the drivers at my garage do this when they make a mistake. They find another driver and talk it over. They use another person’s point of view to help them see through the problem and identify what they did wrong and how to correct it. I am always happy to help in this process as it helps me to avoid the mistakes as well.
Above everything else we are constantly learning and evolving to make the bus ride even safer for the children. My goal is always to get the child from the home to school and back again safely. If that means I have to go slow then I go slowly. It is a sign of a good driver when they will take everything that they have learnt and add to it. There were a couple of drivers that day that had never driven in the snow before and the following day they came to me and asked my advice on what they could have done differently. I did my best to help them and I hope that they will continue to learn.
I am sure that there will be more snow to come this year and I can only hope that everyone will learn each time everyone learns a little more and respects the weather I know I do.