The first winter storms have begun wreaking havoc across much of the US, and school bus drivers are having to take extra steps to ensure the safety of students on their way to-and-from school. Not only does winter weather create numerous driving challenges, it also tests the limits of a school bus’s mechanical abilities. In order to be properly prepared, take a few of these steps, shared by Thinking Driver Corporation, to keep your drivers, buses, and students safe.
1.) ACCEPT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to do all in your power to drive without incident. It isn’t the weather’s fault if you have an accident. It is your job to be prepared for any situation which might arise while driving in winter conditions.
2.) ADJUST YOUR SPEED TO CONDITIONS. Slow down on wet, snowcovered, or icy roads so you can stop in time if you have to. Watch for ice patches, especially in shaded areas, on bridges, and on overpasses. On compact snow reduce your speed by 1/3. On icy roads, don’t be afraid to cut your speed by 1/2.
3.) GET THE “FEEL” OF THE ROAD. If you are away from traffic, try the brakes occasionally while driving slowly. Find out just how slippery the road is and adjust your speed to the road and weather conditions. Never make sudden moves like slamming on the brakes or accelerator.
4.) KEEP THE WINDSHIELD CLEAR OF SNOW, ICE, AND FOG. Be sure headlights, windshield wiper blades and defrosters are in top working condition. (This also means making sure nothing is blocking your heater/defroster vents.) You have to see danger to avoid it.
5.) USE SNOW TIRES, TIRE CHAINS, OR STUDDED TIRES ON SNOW AND ICE. They cut stopping distances and give more starting and climbing traction ability. However, even with the help of chains or studs, slower-than-normal speeds are a “must” on snow and ice.
6.) GENTLY APPLY YOUR BRAKES TO SLOW DOWN OR STOP. Slamming on the brakes can lock the wheels and throw you into a dangerous skid.
7.) UNDERSTAND AND USE ABS CORRECTLY. ABS will increase your stopping distance on icy road conditions. Gently applying the brakes to the point just before the ABS is activated will reduce your stopping distance. If you feel ABS come on, press down hard on the pedal, look and steer where you want you want to go and don’t let up on the pedal until you are out of danger.
8.) FOLLOW AT A SAFE DISTANCE. Keep well back of the vehicle ahead of you in order to give yourself room to stop. Remember, without tire chains, it takes three to 12 times the amount of distance to stop on snow and ice as on dry concrete.
9.) CRUISE CONTROL. Do not use cruise control where the roads might be slick. Cruise control can apply power suddenly or at the wrong time and cause a skid or make a small skid uncontrollable. If you have the cruise control on and think the road might be slick, use the hand operated controls to turn it off. Tapping the brakes can initiate a skid if the roads are slick.
10.) REMEMBER, condensation on the pavement of bridges and over-passes freezes before the rest of the roadway.