National School Bus Safety Week: Thank you, bus drivers!

student stands next to bus driver on a school busIt’s National School Bus Safety Week, and Fonda-Fultonville would like to thank the dedicated bus drivers who work so hard to safely transport students to and from school each day.

“Driving a school bus is not simple. It is a huge responsibility, and requires a lot of patience, understanding, driving skills, and being able to multi-task,” Fonda-Fultonville Transportation Director Donna Hayes said. “School bus drivers transport the world’s most precious cargo, our children.”

What’s in a day for a school bus driver?

student stands next to bus driver on a school busFonda-Fultonville’s bus drivers were recognized by the Board of Education during its August meeting. Some of the drivers are FFCS faculty and staff members, such as fifth grade teacher Laura Hayes-Bowles and district treasurer Anna Wilder. Others are employed by Brown’s Transportation.

“It is not an easy job, and people just don’t realize the responsibilities that a bus driver has,” Hayes said. “I thought I needed to explain what a day in a bus driver’s life was like, and how important the drivers really are in transporting our students safely.”

Hayes said most bus drivers get up very early, as many buses leave by 6 a.m. That means those drivers have to leave their houses even earlier. If a driver’s bus run starts at 6 a.m., the very latest they can report for work is 5:45 a.m.

two transportation department employees with a student in front of a school busOnce they arrive, a driver first has to check in with dispatch. This is required to be sure the driver is physically and mentally able to drive. The drivers also check to see if there are any changes to the day’s schedule, or if there is anything else they need to know.

Then they have to go out into the yard, start their buses and do their pre-check duties, which consists of walking around the outside of the bus as many as three times to check everything on the bus: lights, surface (for damage), doors, seats, gauges, etc.

“Think of doing this at 6 a.m. at 0 degrees or less,” Hayes said.

After completing their precheck duties, drivers then have to fill out a Driver’s Vehicle Inspection Report and return a copy to the dispatcher.

During bus runs, there are new situations every day that drivers have to accommodate. Sometimes students are running late, some are not always waiting, or they have to follow a snow plow, or they get behind an Amish buggy, have to wait for cows to get out of the road, and watch for deer.

“All of these things and more that they have to be alert for and still trying to keep a schedule,” Hayes said. “At every stop, they open their doors and wait, and in the winter, the cold air comes in directly on them. In the summer or sometimes in the spring, it is just hot, and nothing really changes that.”

Most drivers are actually on the buses for a half hour up to an hour and a half, depending on the school, route and number of students to be picked up.

“And during this time it is the driver’s responsibility to maintain discipline and a safe atmosphere on the bus, and drive the vehicle and watch the other drivers on the road,” Hayes said. “I appreciate that the people that drive for FFCS are all dedicated people who honestly care for our students, and look out for them everyday.”