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Staying with the subject of the weather we have had in the past few weeks, today we discuss the training that our school bus drivers receive regarding inclement weather.

State transportation directors often leave it up to the individual school districts to decide their own training and procedures for winter weather driving conditions.  Many school districts train their drivers at the start of each school year and also ensure they only hire local drivers who are used to the terrain and weather.

“Our local school districts here in Montana are used to harsh winters. There are policies in place at the local level to ensure safe and consistent transportation of students during poor winter conditions,” stressed Dylan Klapmeier, director of communications and federal relations for the Montana Office of Public Instruction.

New bus drivers for Durango Public Schools and across Colorado are required to watch two videos, one on mountainous driving and the other on driving in adverse weather.

The transportation directors in Watauga Public Schools, meanwhile, meet with their drivers at the start of each school year to give a refresher course on installing snow chains. The Department of Motor Vehicles in North Carolina also provides driver trainings and instructions on how to drive in bad weather.

However, not only do the drivers have to be prepared for the weather conditions, the buses must also be specially equipped. Lee said buses in his area have heated steps to help melt the snow and avoid icy surfaces that could cause children to slip.

“In some winter weather situations, it is not just the roads that are the issue,” noted Steve Abbott, North Carolina Department of Transportation communications director. “The school districts are responsible for clearing their driveways, parking lots and sidewalks. In larger school districts with dozens of schools, that takes time, especially after a larger snowstorm, or if there are ice conditions.

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