LIMA — Bus drivers from around the state are getting a two-day refresher course in bus safety.
The Ohio Advanced School Bus Driver Training Classes started Tuesday at Apollo Career Center. An estimated 250 bus drivers, 35 instructors and eight more pre-service instructors participated.
“If we think about who we transport — children, our most prized possession — we want to do everything possible to keep them safe when they ride the school bus and also when they get off the bus because the most dangerous part is pick up and drop off of students,” said Joe Dietrich, pre-service instructor for northwestern Ohio. “Our goal as drivers is to keep them safe. Anything that we can do to enhance our skills so that we are better equipped when we’re out there driving with distracted drivers and knowing what we can do and what our bus can do. We are upgrading our skills.”
The drivers participated in classroom activities and demonstrated their skills outside.
“They get to see how much a bus can actually physically do when they maneuver around a set of cones, so it could be like a parked car we’re simulating,” Dietrich said.
For the drivers, it brings things more in focus.
“I love the outdoor activities, maneuverability and depth perception. It just sharpens your skills,” said Sheila Snider, a bus driver for Apollo Career Center. “Our job is very monotonous, and it just makes you take a second look at everything. Safety is No. 1, and I love my kids.”
There was also an activity where they tested the driver’s skills in evacuating a school bus.
“The driver has to get everybody off the bus. The bus is filled with white smoke,” Dietrich said. “They cannot see, but they can breathe, and they have to get everybody off of the bus just by feel and by noises. It’s a skill that you want to have but hopefully you never have to use it in the real world.”
It’s also up to the motoring public to follow the laws when it comes to stopping for buses.
“They need to realize that when the lights are on and the bus is stopped or about to stop, kids are present,” Dietrich said. “We don’t want to have anything happen to our kids, so this is a good reminder to the public of what we do. We’re here, we’re big, we’re bright, we’re yellow. We have flashing lights, but people don’t see us.”
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.