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School Bus Winter Driving Tips
Austin MN AM1480 KAUS

Winter Driving Tips for
School Bus Operators & Drivers

As the temperatures plummet and the snow flakes fly, we gathered the best of the best information on Winter School Bus Driving Tips from the experts and combined them in one place.
And here is just a reminder of why, click here…
Frigid temperatures, snow and ice present their own driving challenges and also test the limits of a school bus’s mechanical abilities –
Here are Tips from the Experts:


  • Establish & Communicate alternate routes/snow routes
  • Set earlier start times for drivers
  • Clear Communication with policies and procedures for late starts/cancellations and disabled vehicles
  • Communication System or Protocol to keep drivers, students, staff and parent/guardians aware of plans and timing, especially if routes are running late.


1. ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY-- it is the drivers job to be prepared for winter conditions.

2. MAINTAIN VISIBILITY by keeping the windshield clear of snow, ice and fog. Have your headlights on and be sure nothing is blocking the heater or defroster vents.

3. BE AWARE and ADJUST SPEED TO CONDITIONS.  Be Aware of roads that are wet, snow-covered or icy and remember bridge-decks, overpasses and ramps freeze first.  Watch for black ice, especially in shaded areas.   It is suggested to reduce your speed by 1/3 on compact snow and by 1/2. on icy roads.

4. BRAKE GENTLY - UNDERSTAD AND USE ABS CORRECTLY Slamming on the brakes can lock the wheels and throw you into a dangerous skid. Slowly apply brakes when needed. Also know that ABS will increase stopping distance on icy roads.  Gently apply the brakes to the point just before the ABS is activated to reduce stopping distance.  Experts say “If you feel ABS come on, press down hard on the pedal, look and steer where you want you want to go and don’t let up on the pedal until you are out of danger.”

5. FOLLOW AT A SAFE DISTANCE.  Give yourself room to stop. Experts say “without tire chains, it takes three to 12 times the amount of distance to stop on snow and ice as on dry concrete”

6. GET THE “FEEL” OF THE ROAD.  When you are away from traffic, try the brakes occasionally while driving slowly to see just how slippery the road may be.  Never make sudden movements like hitting the accelerator or slamming the brakes which could throw you into a skid.

7. USE SNOW TIRES, TIRE CHAINS, OR STUDDED TIRES ON SNOW AND ICE. They can cut your stopping distance and offer more starting and climbing traction ability. Even with the help of chains or studs, it is important to recognize -- slower-than-normal speeds are a “must” on snow and ice.

8. DO NO USE CRUISE CONTROL when roads might be slick.

9. DRESS WARM or have warm clothes on board in case you need them. Be sure you are able to maintain your visibility when you are bundled up!  It is important to be able to see and be seen.


All buses should be equipped for winter weather prior to the start of the season, here is a quick check list.
  • All tires have sufficient tread or switch to winter snow tires
  • New windshield wipers
  • Test all batteries
  • All lights are functional
  • Add brake line antifreeze
  • Anti-fog product on interior glass and mirrors
  • Rain repellent on outside glass surfaces (a great hack to reduce snow and ice adhesion)
  • Kitty litter or oil absorbent on board for emergency traction


  • Clean snow and ice buildup from windows, mirrors, lights and stop arms
  • Check the wiper blades and washer fluid levels
  • Check the heater and defroster units to make sure they are working properly
  • Make sure tires are properly inflated
  • Keep fuel level as close to full as possible
  • Check for road and weather conditions
If any defects are found, they should be addressed before the driver begins the route.


  • Keep the bus clear of snow and ice, especially the steps.
  • Keep a spray bottle with brine handy for spot treatment on slippery steps.
    (Step tread heaters prevent snow and ice buildup on the steps, consider installing them)
  • Always have 3 points of contact when you enter or exit the bus.
  • Wear shoes or boots with a high traction outsole.
  • Beware as you walk around the vehicle, icy patches maybe under and around the perimeter of the vehcile as well as forming near exhaust pipes.

 *Information gathered and combined from multiple expert sources in the field. If you have a suggestion or contribution, please email us at