With two-thirds of the country blanketed in snow at the start of the new year, now is the ideal time for drivers of every ilk to revisit winter driving tips. In an effort to protect students, leading school bus contractor First Student is reminding parents and other motorists to proceed cautiously, especially around school buses.
Since fall, the company has been busy preparing and training more than 50,000 school bus drivers for weather-related travel challenges in every adverse condition including snow, ice, rain and fog.
"Each of our drivers is trained specifically to handle slippery roads to help ensure students are safe throughout the more challenging driving months," said Gary Catapano, senior vice president of safety for First Student.
Yet, the safety of our most precious cargo depends not only on school bus drivers but also on other motorists, including parents who drive their kids to and from school.
First Student would like to remind all motorists to allow extra time to travel in bad weather, drive at a safe and appropriate speed for road conditions and leave a sufficient following distance. Drivers also are advised to make sure their vehicle is well maintained by checking gas tank and window washer fluid levels as well as wiper blades, tires, batteries and defrosters to ensure they are in good working condition.
Most important, the company urges motorists to follow the law around school buses. It is illegal in every state to pass a school bus that has extended its stop arm and turned on red flashing lights. Yellow flashing lights mean the driver is preparing to stop, while red flashing lights indicate students are getting on or off, so drivers need to stay alert and stop at a safe distance from the bus.
The school bus contractor advises parents to keep their families safe by following a few simple guidelines.
- Leave early to get to the bus stop. When roads and walkways are slippery, rushing to catch the bus or driving faster to make it to your destination can have dangerous results. Children need extra time to get to the bus stop in cold, windy or snowy conditions.
- Make sure your children are protected and warm — but also aware. When bundling up your child with heavy coats, hats and scarves, make sure he or she still has an adequate line of sight and can hear traffic and other noises.
- Pay attention to weather alerts and school messages. During hectic mornings, parents must be aware of weather alerts and school cancellations, early dismissals and/or bus route changes. Also make sure your school has your contact information for late-breaking alerts and check school websites when inclement weather is expected.