Winter Bus Driving Safety Basics

Winter Bus Driving Safety Basics

With the winter season in full swing, school bus safety is something we should all take seriously. Inclement winter weather can create dangerous conditions for students who ride the bus to and from school, and it is extremely important to be prepared for these hazards. Planning ahead and training bus drivers in winter driving safety are essential elements of a safe winter bus ride for children. By taking the time to understand winter bus safety risks and precautions, drivers and transportation directors can help ensure that their district's children ride safely no matter what winter brings.

1. Plan ahead.

The winter season brings its own unique set of risks and precautions, so it’s important to plan ahead before the first snowfall hits. This can include extra preparation for the school buses, additional emergency supplies, extra training for drivers, and more. Each of these areas of essential preparation are detailed below.

2. Prepare the school buses before winter hits.

To prepare school buses for the winter season, bus drivers and maintenance personnel should be sure to do the following:

- Test batteries to ensure sufficient charge, as battery issues often present in colder weather

- Add antifreeze to all coolant reservoirs and radiator(s)

- Check all fluid levels and ensure each has been topped off

- Switch to snow tires in certain areas, as needed

- Add a rain repellent to the front windows if necessary.

- Make sure all exterior lights are working properly.

- Inspect and prepare the brakes, tires, and suspension system.

3. Train drivers in winter driving safety.

In addition to preparing the buses for the cold temperatures, it is also important to ensure that bus drivers understand how to navigate icy roads and bad weather conditions safely. This includes teaching them about proper winter driving techniques, such as how to maintain control of the bus in slippery conditions and knowing when to reduce speed. Consider offering a course, training videos, or even just a meeting to go over winter safety with your district's bus drivers each year. Even the most experienced drivers could use a refresher once in awhile, and extra caution never hurts when it comes to student safety.

4. Provide additional emergency supplies.

It is also advised to stock up on essential winter safety items for the school buses, such as extra blankets, flashlights, batteries, non-perishable snacks and water bottles, and any other recommended emergency winter weather supplies. This will help to prepare the buses for any unexpected delays or breakdowns that may occur during the winter season.

5. Expect longer driving time.

It is also important to remember that the winter season usually brings longer driving times. When inclement weather arises, parents must plan accordingly and adjust their schedules as needed to accommodate any extra driving or walking time required to arrive at their child's bus stop. Drivers may also need to leave for their routes earlier and plan for extra time to clear snow from the buses and complete their pre-trip inspection. Be sure to utilize the pre-trip inspection tools in EZDistrict to add any additional items that need to be inspected in the winter time.

6. Utilize EZDistrict for real-time updates.

To help with organization and keeping student's caregivers in-the-know, districts can utilize EZDistrict for real-time updates about bus schedules, routes, stops, and changes. This will help to ensure that the most up-to-date information is made available to parents in a timely manner, including information about delays, last-minute changes, and more.

7. Maintain visibility.

Visibility is extremely important for bus drivers at all times, and especially during the winter months. It is crucial to make sure that all snow and ice are completely cleared away from the windshield and front windows of buses before they leave. This will help ensure visibility on the roadways, even in bad weather conditions, and give drivers enough time to react accordingly. Conditions in certain areas can change quickly, so it is important to have safety measures in place, in the event that driving conditions change while on a route.

8. Drive with caution.

Lastly, this may sound like a no-brainer, but it is important that school bus drivers exercise caution at all times when driving in winter conditions. Extra training and preparation are always helpful, but these are no substitute for alertness and caution, especially when it comes to the safety of students.

By taking these proactive steps to prepare school buses for the winter season, parents and bus drivers can help to ensure a safe and comfortable ride for all students. With the proper planning and preparation, school buses can be ready to tackle any cold weather that comes their way. Stay safe, and happy winter driving!