For the love and joy of being a school bus driver, these professionals endure seasons of unforeseeable roads and unpredictable children. They are people you likely already know. They are diverse in age and background, but each and all have invested a significant amount of time and money to become the drivers entrusted with the most precious of cargo – our children.
Most of us remember the first time we ever rode a school bus. Some will always remember who was behind the wheel. Sitting up high in the seat of the yellow bus was the bus driver who greeted you in the morning and saw you off safely at the end of the day. However, not soon after we became drivers ourselves, some of us may have begun to see the school bus as an inconvenience that blocked our view, slowed our ascent up a hill, or brought us to a complete stop at a railroad crossing. We may have blamed it for the reason we were going to be late, or got frustrated because it was slowing us down. But have you ever stopped to consider the requirements, the training, and the daily encounters the average school bus driver undergoes? Have you ever stopped to think about what the average day of a school bus driver is like?
Before even touching a school bus, drivers take four Department Of Licensing (DOL) tests and a drug test in order to obtain a temporary Commercial Drivers License (CDL) permit. Then there is learning the mechanics, the air brake system, and identifying every part of the bus. This is followed with over the road and maneuver training. After a series of practice tests, it is time for the final, the State Test. Passing this test earns you a CDL Endorsed License, and the ability to continue on with the goal of becoming a school bus driver. There is the pre-employment physical, and, finally, a Federal Background Check. Once all these things are completed, the school bus driver is ready to begin the day before the sun rises!
Whenever the rubber meets the road with your children aboard, safety of the students is always on the school bus drivers mind. They not only encounter the realities of students’ lives, they also keep aware of the community around them, noticing opportunities in which we may be able to help someone, or for sights that seem out of the ordinary. Drivers are constantly aware of changing road conditions, anticipating and avoiding hazards, and doing so while watching all mirrors, stopping at RR crossings, listening to two-way radio, and observing student behavior. They are required to crawl around in the snow to put on snow chains. And guess what? No potty breaks.
Road conditions, like our lives, are constantly changing. At the end of the day, these individuals are more than school bus drivers serving their community with the highest standards of safety and courtesy. They are human, with good days and bad. They look for the beauty and blessing all around us, and are grateful for sunrise and sunset. They work hard for you and your children. Thank you for working with them.
Photo By Maximilian Simson