School Bus Safety Starts with a Pre-Trip Inspection
As school systems across the nation were preparing for back to school time, they weren’t just chucking a set of keys at new hires and setting them loose on their own. Each new driver must pass a series of written and skills tests in order to get the Class B CDL license required for driving a school bus.
Many schools were working on putting training programs in place to make sure new drivers were prepared to get that Class B CDL, and a main focus of this training is the pre-trip inspection. Before any bus driver can begin his or her daily route, a complete pre-trip inspection must be performed. This includes checking things like:
- Lights and reflectors on the front of the bus. Make sure it includes running lights, headlights, turn signals, hazard lights, fog lights, and student warning lights.
- Steering linkage. Make sure the bus includes a pitman arm, drag link, knuckles, and tie rod.
- A safe start. Ensure that the bus’s parking brake is set and that the transmission is in neutral. Then, depress the clutch, start the engine, and slowly release the clutch.
But it’s not only the safety of the vehicle that’s important — bus drivers must also focus on passenger safety. You are responsible for the children getting to and from school safely every day. In one New York community, a bus driver has developed a new safety product that is getting some attention around the town…
Victoria DeCarlo, a 19-year bus driver from New York, was frustrated with one particularly dangerous stop in her daily school bus route. In New York, drivers are required to signal students across the road. At this particular intersection, her students were having difficulties seeing her hand signals and DeCarlo was worried about the potential of an accident. So she sat down and created what she calls the STEFFI Crossing Enhancer — a piece of equipment to help students cross the street. The STEFFI is worn on the back of the hand. The grey reflective arrow is placed on a bright yellow background with an orange border. The elastic crossing tool can be worn over gloves or bare hands and is visible through the windshield of a bus. More info on the STEFFI here.
As more and more schools begin opening their doors again, remember to always be aware of buses around you. Understand the focus on safety and the training that these drivers must go through. And if you’re a bus driver, remember to always do a pre-trip inspection before starting your route. It never hurts to keep a pre-trip checklist handy or to review with a pre-trip DVD to ensure that you’re fully aware of all vehicle conditions. Remember, you’re responsible for keeping the children on your vehicle safe, and that starts with keeping the bus in good, working order.
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