Bus driving workshop skids to success | SierraSun.com

Bus driving workshop skids to success

Renee Shadforth

About 15 bus drivers sit in a bus, bracing themselves for a driver to take them over an icy patch set up next to Tahoe Truckee High School.

“Everyone, hold on,” Don Huff, a certified school bus driver instructor, shouts from his post at the front of the bus. “Make sure you grab the seat in front of you.”

“Now I want you to really punch it. Really give it some gas if you want. And turn the wheel, hard,” Huff said quietly to his first “victim,” a bus driver from a Roseville school.

The driver gets up to speed but only does a slight skid on the ice, which is met by groans from the passengers.

“I’ve slid worse than that before,” one said.

As the drivers take their turns, each gets the bus going faster, turning more acutely and sliding farther, as they all vie for worst skid.

Those on the bus were part of a group of more than 100 bus drivers who attended the snow inservice at Tahoe Truckee High School Feb. 22. Each year, school bus drivers must complete 10 hours of inservice to keep their California Special Drivers Certificate.

“Inservices like this go toward those hours they have to complete. We’re trying to turn the ‘have to’ into a ‘want to’ for these drivers,” said Tom Miller, director of transportation services for Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.

In addition to the skid pan exercise, drivers also mastered chain installation on five different buses from district transportation services and how to properly set up a car seat on a bus from Auburn CHP. Attendees also learned how to be a search and rescue facilitator if a student is missing on a ski trip from Placer County Search and Rescue.

“Driving in the snow can be a daily thing for us,” Miller said. “The drivers here for the inservice are coming up to the mountains once or twice a year for ski trips. It’s mostly a matter of being prepared.”

It was the first time Tahoe Truckee Unified School District held the event in seven years. Deborah Chase, district school bus driver instructor, said she couldn’t have been happier with the outcome.

“We’re going to do it again next year and we’re sure there are going to be at least double the drivers there,” she said.