Defensive driving skills constitute practices that assist the drivers to drive the vehicle through challenging conditions. And, it is essential for the school bus drivers, especially due to varied reasons. However, they need to wade through constantly varying conditions of weather and circumstances and also they have a responsibility to safely transport the most vulnerable group of people, the students.
Meanwhile, these skills include driving in harsh weather conditions like rain, low visibility due to fog, etc. as well as driving skills under different types of roads, steep surfaces etc..
1. Driving in low light conditions
Drivers need to be extra vigilant since the visibility is lower in the early morning hours or in misty or foggy conditions. Check the interiors of the bus for leakages or whether there is a suitable electrical insulation or not. Rectify the evident defects as soon as possible. In addition to this, apply fog lights when needed.
2. Harsh weather conditions
School buses are intended to safely fetch the students be it sunshine, rain or snow. If you require to drive though snowy conditions, then it is wiser to obtain the equipment for removing the snow such as shovels. Nevertheless, the roads become slippery due to rain and hence it is advisable to conduct a regular check on the tires and tubes.
Buses being heavy vehicles, you will confront difficulty in controlling it on the slippery terrains. Apparently, a bus requires 12 times more time to stop when the road is slippery than under normal dry weather. Also, before applying the brakes, check the rear view mirror for the close driving vehicles at the back. Showing stop signals a little earlier would assist you in alerting the trailing vehicles. Before stopping at the designated bus stop, check the mirrors for the approaching students and send out alerts.
3. Hilly terrains
Steep roads, hilly terrains, and zigzag paths all render a risky combination and therefore safe driving should be your first priority. While descending, slow down. Maintain constant speeds while climbing. Be sure to heed and honk before passing through blind curves. Presumably, you can maintain a minimum distance between your bus and the vehicles ahead for ensuring safety.
4. Transporting special need students
School bus drivers need to be vigilant while ferrying special need students and little children. Slow and steady is the best motto in such instances. Consider and be aware of their limitations. Be empathetic and patient, and recognize their needs. Avoid sudden stopping or speeding up. Also, it is wise to avoid sudden turns.
5. A flat tire? Tire blow out?
These are situations, which warrant considerable sense to stop the vehicle at a slower pace towards the sides of the road away from the ongoing traffic. Regularly check the tires and maintain them with appropriate pressure. The damage to tires must be instantly considered and informed to authorities so that they can rectify it swiftly. Bulging tires should be prevented. At the same time, hold your hands properly on the steering wheel.
Often during the tire blow outs, you will lose vehicle control. Don’t apply the brakes forcefully in such instances. A roll over can be avoided. Apply a little acceleration and then slow down by applying the spring brake. Service brakes should be avoided since it can cause rolling over. And never forget to carry a properly inflated spare tire, as it can be beneficial in the emergency cases.
6. Mirror adjustment
Be sure to adjust the mirrors properly before taking the vehicle out in the mornings for picking up students. Also, you should be aware of the areas that each mirror covers as the drivers can check on the vicinity of the bus at all times.
Ordinarily, the inside flat mirrors serve to view the outside of the passenger windows, but above the window level. And, the top of the rear-view window should be seen in the top of the inside flat mirror for proper viewing angles. The cross view mirrors serves to view the front area of the bus including the bumper. Furthermore, flat mirrors outside should be adjusted to view at least 200 feet at the rear of the bus, sides, and rear tires.
As a matter of fact, outside convex mirrors serves you to view the entire area on the sides of at least one traffic lane width. Moreover, with sufficient adjustment of the mirrors, drivers will be able to cover all the blind spots in front and sides of the bus, but not at the back. Hence, it is wiser to seek assistance while reversing the vehicle.