School Bus Drivers Must Constantly Adapt to Changing Weather
published on September 16, 2019 by Sonia Mastros
While politicians may still argue over the impact of global climate change, few people on the ground still seriously doubt that climate change is real - and it's causing a lot of unpredictable weather. School districts and school bus drivers need to be prepared to deal with weather that can shift rapidly and have ways of dealing with the sudden appearance of dangerous storms.
There's no perfect solution here, but there are numerous ways to help make bad situations less dangerous.
Four Ways to Help Drivers Adapt to Changing Weather Conditions
1. Increased Snowy Weather Training
Does your district give training specifically on driving in snowy or icy conditions? Unless your district is in the middle of the desert, it probably should. (And maybe even then.) Unpredictable weather is causing snowstorms to develop more often, including areas which traditionally don't see much snow. Your school bus drivers should always have training for driving on snow and ice, just in case.
2. Have Emergency Shortened Bus Routes Available
Many districts in the countryside have started making up two routes for each of their buses - a normal route, and shortened route which avoids roads which would be dangerous in inclement weather such as winding mountain roads. Then these shortened routes can be evoked quickly and smoothly if weather demands. Be aware that you need good communication with your parents if they are in areas which are hard for buses to reach. If you have to cancel part of a route, you must have a way of notifying the parents.
3. Have Clear Procedures for Forced Stop Situations
What should your school bus drivers do if a storm hits, and they feel it is unsafe to continue on your route? Make sure you have clear and unambiguous procedures to follow, including how the district office - and the parents - will be notified. Likewise, have procedures in place in the rare instance that a bus needs to be evacuated, such as becoming stuck in snow.
4. Consider Adding Automatic Tire Chains
If your district is one that frequently sees snowstorms, automatic tire chains can be an invaluable investment. Originally a technology designed for truck drivers, automatic chains are now being added to school buses as well. If the roads become snowy or icy, your driver only needs to press a button and their traction will improve.
This won't be a cheap upgrade, but in snowy districts, it can genuinely save lives.
Weather Is Getting Worse - How Are You Coping?
Every area of the country has its own weather-related issues.
What challenges does your district face, and how are you overcoming them? Let's share tips in the comments below!