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In-Service Safety Series
In-Service Safety Series
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Total time for this module: 1 hour 30 minutes (without the practice session). Practice will probably take 20-30 minutes per person per vehicle.

Module Overview

School bus drivers must be familiar with all of the buses they drive.

Learning Objectives

At the completion of this module, participants will be able to:

1. Describe what handling characteristics they must learn about each bus

2. Recognize when the mirrors on a bus are properly adjusted

3. Use the mirrors to gauge the space around the bus and to back up the bus

4. Pass the wheelbase test (know how much room they need to turn).

Main Topics

  1. Handling Characteristics
  2. Mirrors
  3. Backing the Bus
  4. Turning
  5. Practice Session

Materials Needed for Instruction
  • Overhead projector and screen
  • Overhead slides
  • Flipchart and markers
  • Masking tape

Format of Practice Session

The practice session has three stations: Mirror Adjustment, Backing the Bus, and Making a Right Turn. Each driver should complete each station. You will want the driver to complete the entire practice session for each of the buses that he or she drives.

Since the practice session will take some time to complete (20-30 minutes per driver), you probably will be unable to do the classroom and practice session at the same time. Here are some suggestions for ways to do it:

  • Schedule small groups (3-5 drivers) at specific times over a week-long period (longer if you have a lot of drivers).
  • Have people come in whenever they have time.

Create a schedule that will work for you and your drivers.

Resources Needed for the Practice Session

  • 1 person at each station, in addition to the driver
  • 20-25 18"-tall cones
  • 12-foot tape measure (2 if possible)
  • Large parking area
  • Yellow rope for marking the backing and turning places
  • Handouts:
    Practice Session - Station #1, Mirror Adjustment, Handout #4
    Practice Session - Station #2, Backing the Bus, Handout #5
    Practice Session - Station #3, Making a Right Turn, Handout #6

Practice Session Set Up Instructions

The practice session should be held in a designated practice area. The best practice area is a large parking area with room to maneuver the buses safely. You will have to use your judgment in setting up the practice session based on the space you have available.

Station 1 is Mirror Adjustment.

This station must be completed first, before the driver backs or turns the bus.

Purpose: At this station, the driver will direct someone else to adjust the mirrors to eliminate blind spots. Since correct mirror adjustment depends on a particular bus and a particular bus driver, the cones will be readjusted for every bus and each person driving that bus.

Objective: The driver MUST see all the cones, either with the naked eye or with one of the mirrors. In the outside flat mirror, the driver must see Cones N and M (see Handout #4) and 200 feet behind the bus.

Set Up: You will need 16 18"-tall traffic cones and a tape measure that can reach 12 feet. You will need a space the length of the bus plus 12 feet, with an additional 12 feet on the right and 12 feet on the left of the bus.

Instructions: Have the driver read the handout. Place the 16 cones around the bus as indicated on the handout. Using the 12-foot measuring tape, measure from the side of the tire to the center of the cone. Once the cones are place, have the driver sit in the seat as someone else adjusts the mirrors. Remember to close the door if it blocks vision.

Handout: Mirror Adjustment, Handout #4

NOTE: It can take a while to get the mirrors adjusted properly, especially in older buses. You may want to set up two Mirror Adjustment stations to keep drivers from standing around. You also may want to have someone from your maintenance department on hand.

Tell participants what to do if they can't get their mirrors adjusted. Some buses may need to have mirrors added or brackets changed. You should have a procedure in place to deal with this.

Station 2 is Backing the Bus.

Purpose: The driver will demonstrate the ability to back into a stall.

Objective: When done, the bus should not be touching the rear barrier and should be centered in the stall. At a minimum, the bus should not encroach on the imaginary side and rear boundaries.

Set Up: Place parallel yellow lines/ropes on the ground 12 feet apart. The stall should be the length of the longest bus plus two feet. Mark the front corner of each stall with cones. The back of the stall should be an upright barrier or a line of cones.

Instructions: Have the driver read the handout. The driver should back to within 18-24 inches of the back of the stall.

Handout: Backing the Bus, Handout #5

NOTE: If you use this practice session more than once and find that drivers are finding a cheat spot in front, alter the length of the stall from practice session to practice session.

Station 3 is Making a Right Turn.

Purpose: The driver will demonstrate the ability to make a proper right turn

Objective: The driver must properly prepare for and execute a sharp right-hand turn without touching the curb or excessively encroaching on the adjacent traffic lanes. The rear wheels must come between the cone and the arc (see Handout #6).

Set Up: With yellow lines/ropes, mark a lane for the approach to the turn. The right side of the lane is the curb line. It should be about 50 feet long. You might also want to put a mark 4 feet out from the curb line and stretching about 20 feet back from the turn (see Handout #6) to aid drivers in setting up the turn.

Mark a lane of the same length at a right angle to simulate a sharp right turn. Make the lane to turn into 30 feet wide to simulate a narrow residential street.

Put a cone at the corner. Mark an arc 36 inches out from the corner of the turn.

Instructions: Have the driver read the handout. The driver should make the turn with the rear wheels coming between the cone and the arc.

Handout: Making a Right Turn, Handout #6

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