How to Maintain Total Focus While Driving a School Bus

If you've ever driven a school bus, you got a hearty laugh out of this title. If you are about to drive a school bus, you are praying this article will reinforce your decision to take on such a colossal endeavor and possibly be the holy grail of bus driving secrets. Make no mistake, you will almost always be totally focused while driving a school bus (daydreaming isn't easy with 60+ screaming students behind you), but is is entirely possible to focus on the wrong thing at the wrong time. This article seeks to help you maintain total focus on the right things - at the right times - while driving a school bus.


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    Be on time to the bus. That's easier said than done, especially if you're subbing for someone, but being late throws you off balance. It flusters you. When you're running around like a chicken with its head cut off, you're not thinking clearly and not totally focused. Many, many school bus accidents happen in the school parking lot. Get there on time, relax, get your head together, and stroll up to the bus with the kind of head you'd like to have while actually driving it. If you are late, you better take a moment and a few deep breaths wouldn't hurt. Make sure you've got your act together because those kids ain't going to get it together for you!
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    Remember your training. If you are driving a bus, you have been trained. From start to finish, your training should give you the perfect template for maintained focus. Remember your pre-trip and post-trip inspection items as well as driving and backing procedures. Do these things the way you trained in them, not in the "this is the real world and no one is looking" way. Limit conversation during inspections and do not talk on the phone or radio at all while driving - even to administrators. Pull over if you must. If you remember your training, and practice your training while you drive, you'll maintain a very high level of focus.
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    Practice a focused routine. Train yourself to maintain focus during your route. Routines are monotonous, and it's easy to get sloppy and lose focus on what's important sometimes, like cars and pedestrians. Integrate focus into your routine. For example, train yourself to check traffic both ways, three times, every time. Or train yourself to do a left-to-right and back again all mirror check before driving off from every drop off point. Integrating focus routines into your route will greatly reduce the chances of an accident with other drivers, pedestrians, and especially your students.
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    Look at everything. Keep your eyes peeled and your head on the swivel. Read every sign you pass, everyday. Yeah, you may not need to read the Amish Farmer's Market sign, but it keeps your skills razor sharp. Also, get into the habit of looking at all the cars around you. "Where's he going? What's she about to do? Are they about to pull out?" That's how you train yourself to be able to judge when an oncoming car isn't going to stop for your stop arm. As an added perk, you get pretty good at giving car descriptions to the police.
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    Drive the bus. Let's face it, you have your back turned to three score and some odd kids that are up to who knows what. It's tempting to look into the big rear view, give 'em the ole Clint Eastwood murder eyes and do some hollerin', but that would be shifting focus off of the road - while you are driving. Drive the bus, and drive it safely. If the students become a handful, pull that cheese wagon over, talk to them, call the office, write them up (or whatever works according to your school board's particular procedures). Most problems can and must be dealt with after the route is over, and always, always, when the bus is parked.
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    Pull over to deal with any issues that might arise. As previously mentioned, it is sometimes necessary to find a safe place to pull over. It may be a fight, a sick kid, or a bug on the bus that has everyone in a full apocalyptic panic. If it ever crosses your mind that it might be a good idea to pull over to deal with something, then it probably is. It's always better than having an accident. Heaven forbid, there may even be times that you lose focus because of one thing or another. Pull over safely for a moment and get it together.
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    Ask for help when you need it. Sometimes you need help backing up because you can't see. Ask a student to make sure that you don't run over that garbage can. But there may be times you need help on the bus, whether it be discipline problems, medical emergency, a breakdown, etc. When these things happen you still need to maintain total focus, but in these unusual circumstances the students will become overly excited, making total focus extremely difficult. If you need serious help, pullover and ask for it.

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