The pre trip on a school bus is one of the most important steps of the day for the operator. At this stage the bus is sitting in the garage yard and the driver checks everything head to toe to determine if the bus is safe to use. Once they know the bus is safe to drive they check off and sign the pre trip book for verification.
The walk around and underside check helps spot an obvious problem with an unsecured or unsafe item such as a loose wire or low tire. Operators still use the old school method of banging on the tires to listen for a dull thud indicating an under-inflated tire.
The visual check is very important and when something is out of place a good driver will spot the defect. In the video I demonstrate the automatic light check that comes standard on school buses from Thomas Bus. During this step the back up lights, stop arms and cross gate also come on.
This automated system enables the driver to check the lights without help. Our garage has convex mirrors in designated areas to allow the driver to pull in the yard and check the back up lights and brake lights etc. The auto pre trip cuts down on time and allows one person to check out the entire lighting system.
One disadvantage to the auto pre trip light check is only the bulbs are checked not the actual operating system that initiates each light. Checking under the hood and inside the bus is mostly visual and hands on.
Seats must be locked in and secure, windows and exits must have alarms working and fasteners must be tight. All of the gauges, lights and indicators must work. Of course the air brake system needs close attention as well. As you can see the bus driver has a lot of responsibility to take on.
Under the hood involves feeling belt tension and looking for leaks along with checking all of the fluid levels. An operator with a good set of eyes cuts down on unforeseen circumstances that may occur on the road. With these Thomas C2 model school buses they have a vandalock system and when activated the bus will not start and the alarms will stay on.
In a nut shell everything must be in it’s place and working properly. To be a certified bus driver you need to be extremely conscientious, steady on the road and good with kids. It’s a tall order and not everyone is suited to operate a school bus. With the proper training and adjustments anyone who has the right attitude can excel as a school bus driver.