I wish I was able to make this picture bigger, but the editing software won’t allow it. GGGGRRRR I am afraid being this small the only ones able to read and/or understand it are the people who sit in the driver’s seat of the big yellow bus. I will try to explain anyhow and tell you why this is my first post under the new category.
The grey zones represent danger zones or blind spots for a school bus driver. Notice the one that covers from just in front of the rear wheels to behind the bus. The rear wheels are more than scary enough to have another whole post on the near tragedies I have seen. Today I want to talk about the area behind the bus.
Those little up and down arrows are saying 10 feet from that rear bumper. That is very conservative. A Mini Cooper (love those cars) is a little over 12 feet in length. If you were to pull your MC up to my back bumper, within inches, like the majority of drivers do, there is a good chance I will become your new hood ornament when I back up. Sounds amusing but believe me, not so much. If you are that close
I REALLY CAN’T SEE YOU!
You may think that early in the morning when your headlights are on I will know you are there. Well think for a moment….Picture in your mind pulling up to the rear bumper of a school bus. What are you looking at? Straight ahead. The black bumper? tail lights? reflective tape? the sticker that says
This is what I see in my mirrors.
Drivers side mirror, Mirror over my head, Door side mirrors
It is a bit difficult to get a good perspective of what I am looking at, but the point is the area directly behind the bus is not visible to the driver on an empty bus. Try seeing anything when those seats are full of students, it’s rainy, foggy, or snowing.
From now on, please take the above sign’s advice. Keep back 100 feet. That is approximately 2 1/2 bus lengths. I’d even settle for 1 bus length. That allows me plenty of time to stop if for any other reason my line of sight was blocked.
Now I will give you a couple of good reasons to “back off” I have had three of the four happen to me within the last month. The fourth I witnessed last Friday morning.
1. Grandma realizes she has grand daughter’s Pilates mat in the car. She chases the bus and catches up with me at the next stop. I did not even see her following me because I was on a very busy road and I was watching for my student. The student got on and grandma pulled up to my door side back bumper. She parked and was just rounding the back corner of the bus as I went to pull away. The only thing that saved her from getting hit with my ass end was many years experience. I never stop scanning when I pull away. I still never saw her vehicle it was so close.
2. I had just dropped off three high school students. This is also my turn around area. Without the snow I am able to make one big loop, but with the snow piles I have to pull in, drop off, let the kids walk away towards the front of the bus, then back up and turn. While I was watching the kids clear the front of the bus a mail delivery truck pulled right up behind me. So close I didn’t see it. I looked and started backing. All that saved me from hitting him was the fact that I had to back at an angle in order to finish the turn. I caught sight of the truck at the last moment and hit the brakes.
3. Just this afternoon at the very same turn around I watched the kids walk away, but did not have to back up. Thankfully the town has cleared a lot of the snow and I was able to make a forward loop once the kids were in the clear. Damn good thing because some lady came around me from the driver’s side, drove right around the back of the bus, and down the door side. We just sat there in the middle of the road. This nut did almost a complete circle around my bus with my students on board. Even the kids were like “what the hell is she doing?” None of us could believe it. If I had been backing up I would have backed right into her as she drove around me.
4. Last Friday morning it was daylight when we were picking up high school kids. I was stopped for another bus that was headed in the opposite direction. He had one student boarding. After he was set and reds were off we waved and off I started. In the car behind him sat a girl putting on mascara. She had been so close his exhaust was still floating up over her hood. Diesel exhaust is a known carcinogen. Why would you get so close it fills the whole interior of your car? And why in God’s name are you putting on mascara while you are driving an automobile?
So my first post about the big yellow school bus has been a bit long-winded. It didn’t start out that way. I just needed to make a point. PLEASE people think before you tailgate a school bus, it is dangerous for everyone. BACK OFF