If Water Spills, the Journey Isn’t Safe
We were recently discussing our good friend Snookie Fisher, who was a school bus driver for 41 years in an area known for cold, deep, snowy conditions. In addition to being a remarkable person, Snookie also managed a remarkable feat. In those 41 years, she never had a single accident! So, we are extremely pleased she generously agreed to share the following secrets to her admirable safety streak in the form of a list of best practices to live by when driving a school bus or vehicle:
- Slow down. While we all think we can, we really cannot react quickly enough to avoid an accident or damage when driving too fast. Slowing down just five miles per hour gives you time to see and react easily and safely to any number of dangers, from large deer to small but equally treacherous potholes.
- Never ever back up the bus! Pulling forward is always easier and safer than backing up. Even with the aid of your mirrors, your visibility when backing up is limited. So, to lower the risk of denting your bus or another vehicle, you’re better off playing it safe and smart and driving forward when conditions permit.
- Set your mirrors properly. Even if you are the only person who drives your assigned bus, check your mirrors before and after each trip, as they can move due to bouncing, wind, and other factors. Also, if you happen to sit even a little differently from one day to the next, the mirrors will need to be adjusted accordingly to work effectively.
- Know your bus. Just as you would (or should) for your personal vehicle, do pre- and post-inspections on your bus, as every bus requires ongoing maintenance and upkeep.
- Know the laws. Remember that when transporting students, you should not turn right at any red light, and be mindful that drivers are prohibited from doing U-turns, including at intersections.
- Get as much training as possible. The schools in our property program have access to over 15 hours of quality online training through Vector Safe Schools.
- Practice turning. As with anything, mastery requires practice. When it comes to turning, be sure to practice assessing depth perception and, as part of this routine, take time to adjust your mirrors, looking around them often to avoid blind spots. Also, establish correct turning points, look for fixed and moveable objects, and, above all else, familiarize yourself with the turning capability of the vehicle.
- Conduct drills with the students. Conduct evacuation drills using both exits and also teach the students how to use the two-way radio on the bus in case something happens to any adults on the bus.
- Know the proper steps for reporting an incident. For members of our property program, we now have an easy-to-use mobile app to use to report an incident. After downloading it to your phone, pick a specific vehicle, take pictures with the phone’s camera, and send the information to MSGIA. The sooner an incident is reported, the sooner it can be fixed. (Keep in mind, it often takes much longer to get parts in to fix vehicles, so time is of the essence when it comes to reporting.)
Please do not hesitate to contact any of us to learn more about Safe Schools or the transportation app. You may reach us at:
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