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In-Service Safety Series
In-Service Safety Series
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II. Good Things to Know

  1. There are some things you should know about regardless of what kind of weather you are dealing with
    1. What equipment do I have on the school bus that might help during bad weather and how do I use it?
    2. What are the right clothes to wear?
    3. What is the correct way to slow down when driving a school bus?
    4. How do I listen to the weather report to get the most information from it?
  2. Equipment and its use
    1. There are certain kinds of weather-related equipment that might be needed on a school bus is your area
    2. Strobe lights
      1. Strobe lights are small flashing white or yellow lights on the top of the school bus usually nearer the rear than the front
      2. They are activated by the school bus driver when needed or required
    3. For ice and snow
      1. Automatic chains
        1. Theses chains are activated by a switch in the driver area
        2. They spin under the wheels automatically when traction is lost
        3. They should be activated and deactivated when the bus is in motion at about 30 mph
        4. They don't work in deep snow
        5. They should be deactivated as soon as they are not needed
      2. Manually installed chains, tighteners, and blocks
        1. Metal chains consist of 2 circular metal loops, one on each side of the tire, which are connected by evenly spaced chains across the tire tread
        2. Tighteners
          1. Tighteners take up the slack in a chain
          2. Tighteners are larger rubber bands that resemble a bungee cord
          3. They have 5-8 hooks that hook onto the chain links
        3. Blocks
          1. Chock blocks go under the wheels to prevent the school bus from rolling during chain installation
        4. You need to learn how and when to use chains, tighteners, and blocks
      3. Sand release device
        1. This is an automatic sand dispensing unit
        2. If your bus has one, you must learn how to use it
    4. Review your policy and procedures on use of this equipment
  3. The right clothes
    1. The way a driver dresses could affect the operation of his or her school bus
    2. In winter
      1. Wear layered clothing instead of a big bulky coat
        1. The layers can be removed or reapplied as the temperature fluctuates
        2. A bulky coat can restrict movement
      2. Your type of hat is critical
        1. It shouldn't cover your ears
          1. This enhances your ability to hear over the noise of fans, heaters, defrosters
        2. It should have a visor
          1. This shades your eyes from sun glare
          2. A dark visor is best
      3. Sunglasses are important year round
        1. The wraparound style is good to combat strong sunlight or glare that might come in from the side
      4. Wear gloves with leather or suede palms
        1. These grip the wheel better
        2. Wool gloves are slippery when wet
      5. Wear insulated socks and winter shoes
        1. Cold feet feel numb
          1. This affects foot movement and how you drive the bus
        2. Avoid heavy boots
          1. They are harder to move fast from gas to brake petal
          2. They can affect foot movement
    3. In times other than winter
      1. Whenever the temperature might change, wear layered clothing
      2. Always wear non-slip, soled shoes
        1. Flip flops are never a good idea
      3. A hat with a visor is useful in any situations with bright sun
    4. Keep extra clothing and a blanket in the school bus in case temperatures fall or your clothing gets wet
  4. Slowing the bus
    1. There are several things you should know about the braking system on your school bus
    2. First, determine whether you have ABS or non-ABS brakes on your bus
      1. These 2 types of brake systems perform very differently on slippery surfaces
    3. Both non-ABS and ABS brakes operate on friction
      1. Friction brakes consist of 2 parts
        1. A rotating part - such as a wheel, axle, disk, or brake drum
        2. A stationary part which usually has a lining that can generate a great amount of friction yet give long wear
      2. When you push on the brake pedal, the stationary part is pressed against the rotating part to slow it or stop it
    4. Braking with a non-ABS system
      1. If you have to stop suddenly on a slippery surface, you should press and release the brake pedal many times
      2. If you simply press and hold the brake pedal with non-ABS brakes, the brakes will lock up and you will be unable to steer the school bus
        1. Depending on the speed you are traveling, you may well go into a skid
    5. ABS brake systems use wheel speed sensors to identify when a wheel is locking
      1. If the ABS system senses that a wheel is locking, it automatically applies and releases the brake several times per second to prevent lockup
      2. Because of the sensors, you should NOT pump ABS brakes
      3. You simply apply steady and continuous pressure
      4. With ABS, no matter how hard the pedal is pressed, each wheel is prevented from locking up
      5. This prevents skidding (and allows the driver to steer while stopping on slippery surfaces)
      6. However, this does not create a situation of "steering as usual"
        1. In snow or ice, your steering will still be impaired
        2. You still need to allow a greater following distance with ABS brakes
    6. Second, after you figure out what type of brakes you have, you should know about brake fade
      1. Brake fade is the reduced ability of your brakes to do their job
      2. Brake fade is a temporary condition caused by high temperatures generated by repeated or continuous hard braking
      3. It occurs when the brake pads or shoes "glaze" due to the great pressure and heat of hard use
      4. Once the brake pads cool, the condition subsides
      5. When do you think brake fade is the greatest problem? [In mountain driving.]
      6. What should you do to avoid brake fade while you are slowing down?
        1. First, gear down before you get to an incline or situation where you need to stop
        2. On an incline
          1. Use your transmission to slow the bus
          2. Use the retarder, if you have one
          3. Pump non-ABS brakes. Do Not pump ABS brakes.
      7. Engine compression through your transmission is the first source of braking power
        1. Descend a long steep grade in a lower gear than you would need to climb the hill
        2. If the school bus is loaded, use an even lower gear
    7. What is a retarder?
      1. A retarder is a system that slows the school bus and/or maintains a safe speed by using the compression of the engine
      2. It is not designed to completely stop the school bus
      3. It should be used when in the mountains or on very steep inclines to slow the school bus down
      4. Retarders dramatically reduce brake wear
      5. Retarders should not be used in icy weather
        1. They may "lock up" the rear wheels and put the school bus into a skid
    8. Remember that it is very important to practice braking on all kinds of surfaces, especially slippery ones
    9. Which foot should you use to brake with? [The right foot.]
  5. Weather report
    1. There are certain terms to listen for when you check the weather report
    2. The most important ones are
      1. Advisory
        1. An advisory highlights special hazardous weather conditions that are less serious than those described by a "warning"
        2. Advisories are used for a weather event that may cause significant inconvenience and, if caution is not exercised, could lead to threatening life and/or property.
      2. Watch
        1. A watch alerts the public to the possibility of severe weather or some other hazardous weather element
        2. A watch is intended to provide enough lead time so that individuals who need to implement plans can do so
      3. Warning
        1. A warning warns the public that a hazardous weather element is imminent or has a very high probability of occurring
        2. A warning indicates that appropriate precautions should be taken immediately
  6. Are there any questions about equipment, braking, or weather reports?

II.A - Display Slide #6

II.B - Display Slide #7

II.C.1 - Display Slide #8

II.D.1 - Display Slide #9

II.E.2 - Distribute Handout #1, Weather Terms


II.B. You will need to customize this section for your school district. For instance, you may not have strobe lights or use chains or sand release devices. Instead, weather-related equipment on your buses may include 4-way flashers, winter fronts, heated mirrors, and even kitty litter.Create your own slide to reflect the equipment used in your district.

II.B.2.b. Policies for the use of strobe lights vary. Some districts use them when weather inhibits visibility. Some also use them when the school bus is moving extremely slowly. Some school systems require that they be on at all times.

II.B.3. You may choose to present this section only if your school buses are equipped with this equipment. If you do have this equipment, it is assumed that the school bus drivers have been taught how to use it.

II.B.3.a.3 This prevents damage to the chains.

II.B.3.b. Stand-alone chains are seldom used by school districts anymore. They are heavy and can be difficult to install. If your district does use them, the school bus drivers must be well-trained in their installation. In some states, the school bus driver is required to know how to install chains.

II.B.3.b.3 If a bus carries chains for possible installation, it must also carry blocks for safety while installing the chains.

II.B.3.c. Sand release devices are not widely used except in some school districts in mountainous states.

II.D.2. ABS stands for anti-lock braking system.

II.D.2. Discuss how to find out if a school bus in your school district has anti-lock brakes. Not only should a regular school bus driver know what type of brakes are on his or her school bus but substitute drivers also need to know how to find out this information.

II.D.4.a. This process is called pumping.

II.D.6.e. Some drivers, especially new ones, have a tendency to “ride the brakes.” This can also cause brake fade.

II.D.6.g.1 With older school buses, the rule for choosing gears was to use the same gear going down a hill that you would need to climb the hill. However, newer school buses with more powerful engines and lower friction parts can go up hills in higher gears and have less friction to slow them down going down hills.

II.D.7. You may choose to present this section only if your buses are equipped with this equipment. If you do have this equipment, it is assumed that the school bus drivers have been taught how to use it.

II.D.7. Review the types of retarders on your school buses and how to use them properly.

II.D.9. School bus drivers should NOT be left-foot braking. A person who uses the left foot to brake will usually still have the right foot on the accelerator.

II.E. This may a good place to talk about the best place to get good local weather information. If you haven’t already done so, your school district may choose a particular station that all school bus drivers will listen to.

II.E.2. Distribute Handout #1, Weather Terms, but only review #1. Explain that all the other terms on the list describe advisories, watches, or warnings for different kinds of weather elements.

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