True Talent Behind the Wheel, What It Takes to Be a School Bus Driver in Oregon City
It takes a special person to become a school bus driver. A combination of unlimited patience, nerves of steel, and protective guardian, these dedicated people rise early each morning to safely transport their precious passengers to school.
As put by our driver Cindy Peterson, "No one loves their baby like they do (parents), but it's our job to get them to and from school as safely as possible."
Becoming a bus driver in Oregon City requires:
- Clean Driving Record
- Criminal Background Check
- First Aid Certified
- Annual or Bi-annual physical test (depending on age)
- Ongoing Training and Classes
- Class B Commercial Drivers License
- Passenger and Air brake Endorsement
Our drivers begin by having a current state drivers license and a clean driving record. They are fingerprinted, as are all district employees, and a criminal background check is done. A current First Aid card is a requirement which they carry with them at all times.
Now the fun begins, they start onsite training with our Trainers Pam Braun and Rosemary Vehrenkamp, which is overseen by our Head Trainer Jennie Skellenger. New drivers are taught to go through the bus, doing a pre-trip inspection on all buses before they are driven each day, as well as handling the bus, turning, backing up, and stopping.
State safety rules are emphasized and our pre-trip is more stringent than the Department of Transportation. When the trainers feel they are ready the drivers-in-training are road tested. They need to have a Class B CDL with a passenger endorsement and air brake endorsement. Each driver must pass a physical bi-annually until they reach the age of 55 when they are checked annually. Included in this physical are skills testing which includes pulling a 120 lb. bag of sand which must be dragged 75 feet.
When the drivers have completed all their training and passed all their tests, they still have 28 classroom hours to complete. These cover a variety of subjects including topics such as How to Deal with Bullying, Wheelchair Securement, Accident Prevention and Analysis, Brakes, Breakdowns, Defensive Driving, and Transporting Students with Special Needs. These classes are good for two years and so the drivers must make sure their hours are updated as they expire.
Daily checklist of skills and talent:
- Nerves of Steel
- Unlimited Patience
- Protective Guardian
- Early Riser
- Pre-Trip Safety Checklist
It does take someone special to drive a school bus. Someone with lots of on-going training, someone who enjoys the energy of children, someone willing to get up before the sun to make sure all of our children get safely to and from school.
This story was written and shared in honor of the national Love the Bus Month. To read more visit our Love the Bus page.
To learn more about Transportation including viewing School Bus Routes, visit the Transportation Department.
Oregon City School District is an equal opportunity educator and employer.