Stephanie Riley is no rookie when it comes to maneuvering a 14-ton school bus through snowy streets.
The 34-year-old Omaha mom, who has been a school bus driver for 13 years, reminds herself while driving on days like today, “stay low and slow.”
“You have to be vigilant,” she said. “Your eyes are always moving, constantly watching for other drivers.”
Being a school bus driver in wintry conditions can be challenging, Riley said, but she admits her motherly instincts often kick in.
“All of these students are my kids,” she said. “Safety is always No. 1.”
When the roads are icy, Riley pays close attention to her speed. “It is the scariest feeling when your bus starts to slide,” she said. “We always stay a car-length back.”
Getting through side streets is often the most difficult after a snowfall because cars parked near stop signs and corners leave little room for buses to get through.
“We have to make those corners,” she said. “It can be hard work.”
Riley is also big on being on time, but she knows she can’t always control what happens on her route, especially when it’s snowing.
“I hate having my kids waiting for me in the cold,” she said. “But I can’t be in a hurry. I can’t speed. The child waiting for me is just important as the child I just picked up.”
As a mom of three — two of which ride buses to school — Riley said she understands how parents can get upset when buses run late.
“I don’t want my daughter waiting in the cold either, but I get both sides,” she said.
At the end of the day, Riley said she hopes others realize how important of a job school bus drivers have.
“These buses are filled with the most precious cargo on the planet,” she said.
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