Monday, October 28, 2013

Ms. Pretty

A funny thing happened one afternoon when I was riding a friend's bus learning her route. I sat next to a little girl who is a total chatterbox and insisted on telling me knock knock jokes the whole ride. I even got some of the other kids involved, they all wanted to talk to me at once. But what made me "awwwwww" the most was when this little girl and I had the following exchange:

Girl - Whats your name?

Me - Ms. Bus Driver

Girl - Oh, okay Ms. Bus Driver...... Can I call you Ms. Pretty instead?

Me - Sure :)

It was cute!

Prettily Yours,

Ms. Pretty (The Bus Driver)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Field Trip Fun!

It's OCTOBER! That means.... LOTS of FIELD TRIPS.

We had the Rodeo again this year and the pumpkin patch for the little ones. Then we have Disney On Ice coming up towards the end of the month. That being said, I've had lots of fun on field trips this month. I had the opportunity to transport several band students to competitions and then recently transported the drama club to a one-act play competition.

At the beginning of every field trip, we have to let the students know where the emergency exits are in the buses and how to use them. Since most of these students have heard the speech before, I typically try to make it a little fun by adding a bit of "airline humor" to it on each trip. The kids get a kick out of it and they even ASK me to do it. A typical "airline" version of the emergency exit speech might look something like this:

Me: Thank you for choosing bus number X today. We hope you have a pleasant ride, but before we go we must make sure you know where all the emergency exits are. (Insert required part of speech about emergency exits in airline style). The expected weather at our destination is X, and our expected travel time is X. Please keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times and have a pleasant flight (erm.. bus trip).

Sometimes I get a little silly with things such as last night coming back from a very long competition day and some of the kids I had transported prior on band:

Me: We thank you for re-boarding bus number 1 (bus 3 for my band students!) The current weather is..... Dark.... Our expected weather at our destination is ..... Dark...... (It was after sun down and they laughed!)

It's gotten so popular that the kids actually request that I perform my "airline pre-flight instructions".

Seat backs and tray tables to their full and upright position!

The Bus Driver.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Backing Up Protocol

An Anonymous response to my previous blog on backing up has prompted me to respond here.

And please don't honk your horn when backing. you already have a backup alarm for that. We have a shoolbus driver backing up and honking the horn at 6:15 Am right outside our door. How inconsiderate and unnecessary. - Anonymous

Sometimes we have to follow certain procedure in which we were trained. State laws vary in what is considered protocol as do public and private companies. Some companies request that the driver honk the horn as part of the backing up procedure. It could very well be that this particular bus driver's company requires the driver to honk the horn prior to performing a back-up maneuver. This is for safety in the front as well as in the back. We do understand that hearing the horn and the back-up beeper can be annoying, but the driver is simply doing his/her job.

Other procedures we have to follow include how to do a proper railroad stop and what speed we should be allowed to travel on our routes. There are also regulations in how far back do we trigger the student lights and how to have students get on and off the bus. Some states and private companies require the driver to secure the bus at every single stop, and actually help students cross the road with a hand-held stop sign that a crossing guard would use. We go through training that is designed to keep us safety conscious at all times.

A bus driver had to follow procedure that she had been recently trained on when dealing with a hijacking of her bus. The incredible story here!

You never know when you might actually need to use your training to avert a situation. These procedures might seem annoying and time consuming for you, the homeowner/motorist, but in the end, we are only looking out for the safety of all of our students that board and ride our buses every day.

Safety First!

The Bus Driver

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Advice on Backing Up

I received an email from a fellow bus driver who is relatively new at the field and he asked me for tips on how to effectively back a school bus. Proper backing is an easy task once you get the hang of it. A school bus is a daunting vehicle considering its size and cargo we carry. Often people do ask me, "How DO you turn around a vehicle that large?" That being said, I do have a few helpful tips when backing up a bus for both bus drivers and for parents (and other motorists) who encounter a bus that has to back up.

For Bus Drivers:

1. Get a trusted friend to stand at the front and back bumper - body up against the bumper of the bus while you are sitting in the drivers seat. (Do this when the bus is off and secured). Have the friend move to strategic points along the length of your bus as well as standing at all 4 corners. Viewing the bus from the drivers seat allows you to understand the dimensions of your bus from looking in the mirrors. You can get a feel for how large your bus is and where your turning radius is.

2. When backing, be aware of your tail swing as well as where your rear wheels are at all times. You can control the front of the bus and the rear of the bus by remembering where your wheels are at all times. When your rear wheels clear a corner you can cut the steering wheel hard to the direction you need, and maneuver the bus effectively. (Tail swing is what happens when the front wheels make a turn and the back part of a bus follows.)

3. When backing, it is always better to back into a dead end or side street. NEVER back into a heavy congested area or on a highway if you can help it.

4. Practice, practice, practice!!! I cannot emphasize this enough. Different buses have different turning radius'. Some buses, you will have to swing wide to get the proper angle to back. Others, its as simple as pulling in and backing out a car. Play around with your bus and if you are not sure you have the right angle, you can always back out the way you went in and try again. Once you feel comfortable with your vehicle, it is good to see if you can try backing maneuvers on spare buses should your bus ever be decommissioned due to a problem.

For Parents (and other motorists):

1. When following a bus, leave enough space behind the bus so that if the bus has to stop quickly and perform a maneuver, the bus driver is not locked by your vehicle behind it.

2. If a bus pulls into a parking lot, make sure you hang back and watch where that bus is going before you blindly follow behind. The bus driver may be executing a back up procedure and needs the space to turn around and maneuver.

3. If travelling alongside a bus, be aware of the bus drivers actions. Many of us will signal when we are about to make a turn. If we are turning, make sure your vehicle is not in the way of our tail when we do swing. Sometimes we have to make slightly wider turns due to the size of our vehicle and if you are travelling in our blind spots, WE CANNOT SEE YOU! Additionally, PLEASE be considerate and don't drive in our blind spots.

4. If you DO see a bus backing up towards your vehicle, do NOT honk the horn to try to get the bus driver's attention. We are often dealing with 50 some odd children on a bus at any given time. Instead, MOVE YOUR VEHICLE out of our way. We cannot hear you honking and remaining in place will get you squished.

Hope these tips help!

The Bus Driver