CINCINNATI — Winter doesn’t officially start until December 21, but its wrath has already impacted much of the country. Heavy snow, ice, sleet and wind have led to dangerous driving conditions in close to 40 states already this season. First Student urges motorists who share the road with school buses to use extra precaution this time of year.
First Student knows a lot about safe winter driving. The company completes five million student journeys to and from school each day, with more than 70% of its routes located in areas that experience snow and ice.
“Inclement weather requires all of us to adjust the way we drive,” said Darryl Hill, senior vice president of safety at First Student. “We ask everyone to join us in keeping students safe by remaining alert and being prepared for the travel challenges that can occur during the winter months.”
School buses are the safest way for children to get to and from school. First Student buses are about twice as safe as the industry standard. The company’s drivers receive comprehensive training, including preparation for driving in adverse conditions.
First Student offers these winter weather safety tips to motorists, students and parents:
- Time is on your side. Give yourself extra time when the weather is bad. Drivers who allow extra time to get to their destination help ensure a safe and appropriate speed for road conditions.
- Watch for school buses. Passing a stopped school bus from behind as it loads or unloads children is illegal in all 50 states. It’s estimated that more than 95,000 drivers break this law every school day, causing close calls and injuries to children. Please use caution and maintain a safe following distance.
- Be prepared. Make sure your car’s wiper blades, tires, battery and defroster are in good working condition before inclement weather hits. Keep the vehicle’s gas tank full and check window washer fluid levels.
- Remain alert. Pedestrians are more likely to be rushing during cold temperatures and could be hidden by poor visibility or snowbanks. Remain alert for children who may be hidden or standing in or near the street at the bus stop due to mounds of plowed snow.
- Drive for conditions. Adjust your driving behavior to the weather conditions. During winter, this often requires slowing down and increasing your following distance.
Students & Parents
- Don’t rush. When roads and sidewalks are slippery, rushing to catch the bus can be dangerous. Children need extra time to get to the bus stop in cold, windy or snowy weather. Encouraging them to leave a few minutes early and take their time can reduce the number of falls on slick pavement.
- Bundle up. Students need to keep warm at the bus stop, but they also must still be able to see and hear what’s going on around them. When bundling up your child in the morning, make sure he or she still has an adequate line of sight and can hear traffic and other noises.
- Watch your step. When walking on snow covered or icy surfaces, watch where you are walking, take shorter, more deliberate steps or do the “penguin shuffle.”
- Get a grip. Wear footwear appropriate for conditions. Avoid footwear with no-tread soles when walking on wet surfaces, snow or ice.
- Be patient. School bus drivers are trained to drive in inclement weather; however, snow and icy roads can slow down even the most experienced driver. Safety is each driver’s top priority and extra time may be needed to get from stop to stop.
- Hold on. The simple task of getting on and off the bus can be taken for granted. Always use the handrails! Wet weather can make for slippery conditions.
- Be weather aware. Bad weather can lead to school cancellations, delays or early dismissals. Make sure your school has your contact information to receive alerts and be sure to check your school website or local media when inclement weather is expected.
About First Student, Inc.
As the leading school transportation solutions provider in North America, First Student strives to provide the best start and finish to every school day. First Student completes five million student journeys each day, moving more passengers than all U.S. airlines combined. With a team of highly-trained drivers and the industry’s strongest safety record, First Student delivers reliable, quality services including full-service transportation and management, special-needs transportation, route optimization and scheduling, maintenance, and charter services for 1,100 school district contracts. For more information, please visit firststudentinc.com.