Florida CDL Handbook: Special Safety Considerations
10. School Bus
- 10.1. Danger Zones and Use of Mirrors
- 10.2. Loading and Unloading
- 10.3. Emergency Exit and Evacuation
- 10.4. Railroad-highway Crossings
- 10.5. Student Management
- 10.6. Antilock Braking Systems
- 10.7. Special Safety Considerations
10.7.1 - Strobe Lights
Some school buses are equipped with roof-mounted, white strobe lights. If your bus is so equipped, the overhead strobe light should be used when you have limited visibility. This means that you cannot easily see around you - in front, behind, or beside the school bus. Your visibility could be only slightly limited or it could be so bad that you can see nothing at all. In all instances, understand and obey your state or local regulations concerning the use of these lights.
10.7.2 - Driving in High Winds
Strong winds affect the handling of the school bus! The side of a school bus acts like a sail on a sailboat. Strong winds can push the school bus sideways. They can even move the school bus off the road or, in extreme conditions, tip it over. If you are caught in strong winds:
- Keep a strong grip on the steering wheel. Try to anticipate gusts.
- You should slow down to lessen the effect of the wind, or pull off the roadway and wait.
- Contact your dispatcher to get more information on how to proceed.
10.7.3 - Backing
Backing a school bus is strongly discouraged. You should back your bus only when you have no other safe way to move the vehicle. You should never back a school bus when students are outside of the bus. Backing is dangerous and increases your risk of a collision. If you have no choice and you must back your bus, follow these procedures:
- Post a lookout. The purpose of the lookout is to warn you about obstacles, approaching persons, and other vehicles. The lookout should not give directions on how to back the bus.
- Signal for quiet on the bus.
- Constantly check all mirrors and rear windows.
- Back slowly and smoothly.
- If no lookout is available:
- Set the parking brake.
- Turn off the motor and take the keys with you.
- Walk to the rear of the bus to determine whether the way is clear.
- If you must back-up at a student pick-up point, be sure to pick up students before backing and watch for late comers at all times.
- Be sure that all students are in the bus before backing.
- If you must back-up at a student drop-off point, be sure to unload students after backing.
10.7.4 - Tail Swing
A school bus can have up to a three-foot tail swing. You need to check your mirrors before and during any turning movements to monitor the tail swing.
Test Your Knowledge
- Define the danger zone. How far does the danger zone extend around the bus?
- What should you be able to see if the outside flat mirrors are adjusted properly? The outside convex mirrors? The crossover mirrors?
- You are loading students along the route. When should you activate your alternating flashing amber warning lights?
- You are unloading students along your route. Where should students walk to after exiting the bus?
- After unloading at school, why should you walk through the bus?
- What position should students be in front of the bus before they cross the roadway?
- Under what conditions must you evacuate the bus?
- How far from the nearest rail should you stop at a highway-rail crossing?
- What is a passive highway-rail crossing? Why should you be extra cautious at this type of crossing?
- How should you use your brakes if your vehicle is equipped with antilock brakes (ABS)?
These questions may be on your test. If you can't answer them all, re-read Section 10.
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