In the last 30 days, I have been driving my bus thinking to myself what my next blog should consist of. Every time I think I have it all through and get ready to write, something else happens that is blog-worthy. Well, this month, the blog-worthy material consists of crashes and other drivers.
In my lifetime as a bus driver (11 years), we have had the most accidents in our fleet over the last month, I think, than has ever taken place since I have been here.
Let me clarify what I mean by "accidents." Many people automatically think the bus driver is at fault, but in reality it is most often the other driver or objects that cause the mishaps. We have had multiple people rear end the buses this month. In one case, a bus was loading students and the driver felt a jolt in the back. She thought it was the students jumping around, but as she looked up in the mirror the kids started shouting, "We have just been hit!"
Buses are pretty heavy and high off the ground, so when a car rear-ends one, the car usually ends up with hood under the bus and the bus' bumper at the car's windshield. The main question is, "How do you not see a big, yellow Twinkie?"
I can understand how the smaller special needs bus got rear-ended when the driver stopped at a cross walk to let a pedestrian cross. In that incident, it was not the car behind the bus but the car behind that one that didn't stop, pushing the first car right into the bus.
Then, you have the early-morning driver who is late for work, not quite awake yet and sipping on their first cup of coffee when they run the red light and crash into a bus in the intersection. There's also the deer that commits suicide by jumping into the lane that the bus is traveling. Better yet, the idiot that makes a turn into the parking lot, hits a parked bus and drives away... Hello can you say, "Hit and run"?
These are just a few of the accidents that we have had in the last month. They all get reported and a committee then goes over them to see if they were "preventable" or not. What do you think?
I also recently had my first "road rage" experience. I had just pulled into my last school of the day and had gotten off my bus to read the hub miles. While I was writing it down, a heavy-set woman wearing what looked like Olive Garden server attire came around and asked me if I was the bus driver. I smiled and said, "Yes, why?"
OMG ... She went on this rant about how I ran a red light, cut her off and was speeding, among other things. I, of course, stayed calm and started questioning her right back. Which light I ran? How fast did she think I was going? Then, I explained to her that when I got back to transportation I would have my boss check and confirm her accusations on the computer. She looked at me shocked and said, "What does that mean?" This is when I smiled and told her, "We have GPS on my bus, and it will tell them if I was speeding, stopped and at what time."
Her jaw dropped!
She then asked me my name and typed away on her phone. I am assuming I just made her Facebook status! I did call base and let them know what had happened and to expect a call. She never called, go figure!
In one of my latest blogs, I talked about a little boy having an "accident" on my bus and how I drive a kindergarten route in the middle of the day. Well, this kindergarten route is at a different school than my normal route, so I drive out of four different schools in a day. One day, the office told me that I had a new kindergartener to take home, so I got to the school and started loading my students. The new little boy looks up at me and says, "I know you! You were my bus driver from my other school."
He took his seat and as I was driving away from the school he goes on to tell the other two students that he remembers the rules of the bus. He starts saying, "Don't talk loud, sit down in your seat, don't pee on the bus floor..."
I busted out laughing!
Christe Smith is a school bus driver for the Olympia School District in Olympia, Wash. She has been enjoying driving a bus for the past 10 years and has experienced many events that she has decided to share with the rest of the STN readers. You may also view her blog at Life as a School Bus Driver.