I became a big rig driver in 1996 at age 52. Since then I have driven for several companies to gain needed experience. The transportation industry usually requires two years of big truck driving experience before trusting one to get behind the wheel and be in charge of an 80,000 pound loaded rig – something which can be a potentially dangerous responsibility. I am now a full-time school bus driver in a beautiful, rural and mountainous area 60 miles north of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
A friend told me a scary story the other day which led to what I have to say. All drivers of vehicles on our highways need to hear this. She was following her boyfriend on an Interstate Highway when something tragic was about to happen due to an error committed by a big rig driver. The truck went to pass her boyfriend and for some strange reason began to pull over before he completely passed the car. She watched from her car, several hundred feet behind, as her boyfriend punched the gas and tried to move ahead and out of the way. Regrettably, he did not make it. Thankfully, the boyfriend survived the tragedy.
I believe all of us parents must teach our children to never “hang” alongside a big rig. There are too many things which can happen. Unforeseen accidents can take place in split seconds. Tires can blow out, sending retreads into windshields and braking them very quickly. Truck drivers who have exceeded their 10 hours of driving in a 24 hour period may be an accident waiting to happen. Brakes can fail and entire rigs can become a weapon ready to take away one’s life. I have seen way too many of these incidents in my ten years of driving the big trucks.
Before I began driving a school bus, I used to think school bus drivers had an easier job than we did who drove 67 foot rigs. Drivers in the big truck literally, and even ego-wise, might be tempted to look down on the one driving a bus.
Well, the truth is that school bus drivers have the greatest responsibility of any drivers on the road. This I truly believe. When I drove the the big rig, I could depend on my ability to control what happened. In school buses, drivers work at controlling what happens with children of all ages, some responsible and some very irresponsible.
When we go about driving on the roads and highways, I believe we all can make a difference by being mindful of the children in the school buses and the drivers who are usaually doing their best to help maintain a safe environment inside the bus and drive safely on the road for the sake of all concerned.
I certainly appreciate being able to drive a mechanically sound bus. For sure, I am grateful to other drivers on the road who respect the gravity of the work I do as I carry the precious cargo inside my bus. Those considerate and responsive drivers who stop and wait for me to load or unload my kids, really may have no idea how important their cooperation is.
I believe the people in this country are extremely fortunate to have a school bus system in the many urban and rural areas, everywhere.
I believe all drivers need to hear a big Thank You from all of us who drive the school buses. And we school bus drives do appreciate hearing a Thank You from our students and their parents. Those two simple words can make an incredible difference for us drivers who sometimes believe that others could care less about the work we do, months and months on end, every year.
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