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In-Service Safety Series
In-Service Safety Series
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VIII. Limited Visibility

  1. We've talked about the first set of conditions - slippery roads
  2. Now let's move on to the second set of conditions - limited visibility
  3. What do I mean by limited visibility?

    [When you can't easily see around you - in front, behind, or beside the school bus.]
  4. Your visibility could be only slightly limited or it could be so bad that you see nothing at all
  5. What weather circumstances can limit your visibility?
    • Fog
    • Smoke
    • Dust
    • Snow
    • Rain
    • Sunlight
    • Dawn and dusk
  6. We are going to talk about each of these circumstances and any special ways to respond to them
  7. First, let's talk about what to do whenever your visibility is impaired for whatever reason
    1. Turn on your lights
    2. Establish and maintain a safe following distance
      1. You need to be able to measure 4 seconds following distance to proceed at a speed of 40 mph or less
      2. If you can only measure 2 seconds, slow down
      3. If you can only see 15 feet or less, stop
    3. If you need to stop
      1. Pull all the way off the roadway; onto a solid shoulder or a side road or a parking lot
        1. Never stop on the traveled portion of the roadway
      2. Turn off the regular lights
      3. Turn on your strobe lights and/or your 4-way yellow hazard lights
      4. Set the brake and take your foot off the brake pedal
      5. Put out triangles behind the school bus, if you have them
    4. If you can't stop safely
      1. Proceed slowly until you can stop
      2. Follow the center painted line and the painted lines on the side of the road
      3. Turn on all your lights including the strobe and hazard lights
      4. Sound your horn periodically
      5. Move students forward in the bus to protect them should you be hit from behind
    5. Radio in to dispatch
      1. You may be requesting help
      2. You at least want to let dispatch know what situation you are in
    6. Be alert to other motorists whose visibility may also be limited
      1. By the weather condition
      2. By snow accumulating on their vehicle or undefrosted windows
    7. Are there any questions about what you should do in any limited visibility situation?
  8. Now let's talk about any special things to do in particular situations
  9. Fog
    1. When should you anticipate fog?
      • When there is moisture in the air and there is a difference in temperature (between air and land or between 2 air masses)
      • Common places are in low-lying areas or deep valleys, near bodies of water, along a front
    2. Remember that fog can collect very quickly
      1. Light fog can rapidly become thick “pea soup” fog and surround you
    3. In addition to the general procedures we have covered
      1. Turn on the strobe light if there is any fog
      2. Use your low beams, not high beams
  10. Smoke
    1. When should you anticipate smoke?
      • When there are range fires or forest fires in the area
      • Small grass fires
      • Car or house fires
    2. Forest fires or range fires can spread quickly so smoke can develop quickly too
    3. Smoke from these fires can cover a large area
      1. Don't expect to be able to drive right through it
    4. For large fires, in addition to the general procedures we have covered
      1. Do not enter smoke if you see it ahead
        1. There is a danger of smoke inhalation and damage to the lungs
      2. Close all windows
      3. Turn off vents that bring in fresh air
    5. You can drive by smaller fires when you can see past them
  11. Dust
    1. When should you anticipate dust or sand?

      [Usually arrives without warning.]
    2. A dust storm usually arrives in the form of a wall of dust and debris miles long and several thousand feet high
      1. Visibility is quickly reduced to zero
      2. Dust storms usually only last a few minutes
    3. In addition to the general procedures we have covered
      1. Do not enter dust if you see it ahead
        1. There is a danger of suffocation
      2. Close all windows
      3. Turn off vents that bring in fresh air
      4. Pull off the pavement immediately
        1. Turn on strobe and hazard lights
        2. Set the emergency brake and take your foot off the brake pedal
      5. If you can't stop, proceed following general procedures described earlier
  12. Snow
    1. When should you anticipate visibility problems with snow?

      [In blizzard conditions with heavy snow and high winds; some snow squalls can be very intense.]
    2. In addition to the general procedures we have covered
      1. Keep going if at all possible since there is a danger of exposure to cold
      2. If you have to stop, stop where there is shelter
      3. Watch for snow drifts
  13. Rain
    1. When can rain cause visibility problems?

      [In heavy downpours.]
    2. In addition to the general procedures we have covered
      1. Pull over carefully
      2. Pull over under an overpass if possible
      3. Watch for flooding conditions
  14. Sunlight
    1. When can sunlight cause a visibility problem for you?
      • When sun in low in the sky and ahead of you
      • When sun reflects off the road or another vehicle and causes glare
      • When you have water stains on your mirrors
    2. In addition to the general procedures we have covered
      1. Always have sunglasses readily available
      2. When there is glare from the road
        1. Slow down or stop in a safe place
        2. Don't proceed until you are sure you can see in front of you
        3. The condition can change quickly
      3. When there is glare from another vehicle
        1. Change position relative to the other vehicle so that the sun reflection doesn't affect you
      4. Remember that other drivers may have glare problems too and not be able to see you
  15. Dusk/dawn
    1. While this is not a condition caused by weather, at dusk and dawn your visibility is reduced
    2. However, you may not be aware that your visibility is limited
    3. As a precaution
      1. Keep your headlights on
      2. Use the street lights as a guide to tell you when your headlights should be on or off
  16. Review local policies and procedures
  17. Are there any questions about reduced visibility situations and what to do?

VIII.D - Display Slide #14

VIII.E - Write on flipchart

VIII.G - Distribute Handout #7, Limited Visibility


VIII. Remind participants that their first preference should always be to avoid an adverse weather situation. This module deals with what to do if you haven't been able to avoid it. You will discuss those situations where the school bus driver has to decide what to do.

VIII.A. Tell participants that all the information covered in this section will be on a handout which you will distribute shortly.

VIII.E. Dawn and dust are not really weather situations but they do limit visibility.

VIII.G. Distribute Handout #7, Limited Visibility. Review it with the participants.

VIII.G.2.a. Here is a good rule about how much space you should keep in front of you:

  • At least one second for each 10 feet of vehicle length at speeds below 40 mph.
  • At greater speeds, add one second. For example, if you are driving a 40-foot vehicle, at 40 mph leave 4 seconds. At 50 mph, leave 5 seconds.

VIII.G.3.b-c. Your policy may be different. Be sure to review what is expected of school bus drivers in your district.

VIII.K.3.a. You may not have a choice. The dust storm may be upon you regardless of what you do.

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