School Bus Driving

I’m currently training to drive a school bus for the Bellevue School District.The most challenging part of training is memorizing the pre-trip inspection. It’snine pages of different components of the bus that you have to check and verbalize.For the real test at the Department of Licensing you have to go through the pre-tripinspection by memory. Below is what you have to do:


Check that all external lights and reflective equipment are clean and functional,light and reflector checks include:

Front of Vehicle

headlights, high beams, emergency flashers, left turn signal, right turn signal, warningyellows, warning reds, and stop paddle lights

Rear of Vehicle

emergency flashers, left turn signal, right turn signal, warning yellows, warningreds, stop paddle lights, back up lights and taillight

Clearance Lights and Reflectors – check that all reflective equipment is cleanand functional. Check that all lenses are clean, not damaged and not missing.

Clearance Lights and Reflectors and Reflective Tape.

Air Brake Checks

Turn the bus off and put the key in the battery charge position. Release the parkingbrake. Then fully apply the service brake and state that the air leakage rate forthis vehicle is no more than three psi per one minute. Watch the air gauges for oneminute. At the end of one minute state how much air was lost. Then start fanning yourservice brake. State to the tester that a low air warning device should come on beforethe air drops to sixty psi. When it comes on state to the tester at what psi it cameon. Continue fanning the service brake. State that the park brake should come on somewherebetween 20 and 45 psi. When the park brake comes on state to the tester where it cameon at.

Safety Start

The park break is on, the bus is in neutral, start the engine.

With the engine running the air pressure will build. State that the air pressure willbuild until the air governor cuts it off between 100 and 125 psi. State when the airgovernor cuts off.

Cab Engine Inspection

Parking Brake. Apply only the parking break, shift into a lower gear and slowly accelerate.

Service Brake. Release the park break, slowly accelerate then apply the service brake.

Service Brake Pedal. Apply/release the pedal. State that you are checking for freedomof movement, and that there is no binding or unusual noises.

Accelerater Pedal. Apply and release the accelerater pedal. State that you are checkingfor freedom of movement and that the isn’t any binding or sticking.

Heater/Defroster. State that you are checking to make sure heaters and defrosterswork.

Horns. Check that the air horn and electric horns work.

Windshield. Check that the windshield is clean, free of illegal stickers, has no obstructions andnot damaged.

Wipers. Check that the wipers operate smoothly.

Interior Lights. Check that the two middle sets of lights work, the back lights andthe cab light.

Power Steering. With the engine running open the driver window and turn your wheelall the way to the left so you can see your left front tire. While looking at thewheel turn your wheel slightly Play should not exceed more than 2 degrees or10 inches in a 20 inch wheel before the the wheel barely moves.

Air Supply Gauge – Check that the air supply gauges are normal and operational.

Ammeter/Voltmeter – Check that the Ammeter is in the positive and that the Voltmeteris between 12 and 14 volts. State at what the Voltmeter is currently at.

Oil Pressure Gauge – Check that the oil pressure is normal and operational.Press on the accelerator to show that the gauge rises slowly.

Turn off the bus and turn the key to the left.

School Bus Check

Safety and emergency Equipment – check that there is a seat belt cutter, checkthat there is a charged, rated, tagged, pinned and securely mounted fire extinguisher,check that there is a body fluid clean up kit and first aid kit, check that they areboth securely mounted, check that there are three reflective orange triangles. Mentionthat this bus has circuit breakers so there aren’t any spare fuses.

Emergency Exits – Identify all of the emergency exit locations and state thatthey are not damaged and operate smoothly and securely close from the inside.State that any exit with thick, black rubber around it can be kicked out. Demonstratehow at least one exit works. Open the driver side emergency door, state that you arechecking that the buzzer sounds and that the door holds.

Seating – State that you are looking for broken seat frames and checking thatthey are securely mounted to the floor. Check that all cushions are securely mountedto the frames.

Passenger Entry – State that the door is not damaged, operates smoothly andcloses securely from the inside. State that the handrail is secure. State that thesteps are clear and the treads aren’t loose, worn excessively and there isn’tanything blocking the aisle-way.

Turn the bus off and secure it. Take the key with you.

Mirrors – check to make sure the mirrors are securely mounted with not loosefittings, not damaged and not dirty. And properly adjusted.

Wipers – check that wipers are securely mounted and not damaged.

Clearance Lights and Reflectors – Check that all reflective equipment and lenses are clean, functional, not damaged and not missing. Check clearance lights.

Crossing Arm & Stop Paddle – check that the crossing arm is securely mounted,isn’t damaged and doesn’t have loose fittings and that the bladderisn’t damaged. Check that the stop paddle is securely mounted, doesn’t haveany loose fittings and that the bladder isn’t damaged.

Air Drain Valves – Check valves for damage or leaks

Front Axle

Steering Box – Checking that the steering box is securely mounted and therearen’t any missing nuts, bolts or cotter keys or leaking power steering fluid.

Steering Linkage – Check that connecting drag link, pitman and steering arms,and tire roads from the steering box to the wheel are not worn or cracked.

Tires – Checking that tread isn’t deeper than 4/32 in each major groove.Checking that the tire is properly inflated by using an tire gauge or a mallet. Checkthat tread is worn evenly, check for cuts, abrasions or buldges (CAB) to the treador side walls. Check that the lug nut aren’t loose, missing, distorted, damagedand look for rust trains and shiny treads.

Hub Oil Seals/Axle Seals – Check oil level, make sure that hub oil seal andaxle seals aren’t damaged or leaking.

Front Suspension

Springs – check for missing, shifted, cracked, or broken leaf springs.We don’t have coil springs or air bags.

Mounts/Hangers – Check form cracked or broken hangers. Check for damaged ormissing bushings. Check for broken, loose or other axle mounting parts.

U-Bolts – Check the U Bolts aren’t loose, damaged or missing.

Shock Absorbers – Check that the shock absorbers are securely mounted and aren’tleaking.

We don’t have air bags.

Emergency Door – Check the emergency door and prop open.

Rear Axle

Tire Inflation – check that tires are properly inflated using a tire gauge ormallet. Check to make sure the valve stems aren’t missing, damaged or leaking.

Tire Condition – check to make sure that the tires are evenly worn and thateach major groove isn’t more than 2/32. On the tread and side walls check thatthere aren’t any cuts, abrasions or damage. Check that there aren’t anyobstructions between the dual tires and they aren’t touching.

Lug Nuts – Check that the lug nuts aren’t missing, cracked, distorted,loose and don’t have rust trails or shiny threads.

Axle Seals – Check that there isn’t any leaking and state that you wouldcheck the oil level but cannot remove the hub axle.

Rims – Check for dents or damage to the flange. Check for cracks and welds onthe rim.

Mud Flaps – Check that the mud flap is securely mounted, isn’t damagedand that it to the center of the axle hub.

Rear Suspension

Springs – check for missing, shifted, cracked or broken leaf springs. We don’thave coil springs.

Mounts/Hangers – Check for cracked or broken spring hangers. Check for damagedor missing bushings and broken, loose or other axle mounting parts.

U Bolts – Check for loose, damaged or missing U Bolts.

We don’t have air bags.

Shock Absorbers – Check that shock absorbers are securely mounted and not leaking.


Brake Linings – check that the linings aren’t cracked, broken and areat least 1/4 of an inch and there aren’t any loose or missing components andthere aren’t signs of oil or grease.

Brake Drum – Check for cracks, grooves, dents, and holes.

Slack Adjusters – Check for broken, loose or missing parts. Check brakeadjustment. Breaks should extend a little more than 90 degrees the the brakes arereleased. Breaks should extend a little less than 90 degrees when the breaks are applied. Thebreak rod shouldn’t more more than one inch when pulled by hand.

Brake Hoses/Lines – Check that all hoses aren’t cut, worn, frayed, leaking ortouching/rubbing against each other or other parts.

Brake Chamber – Check that the brake chamber is securely mounted.

Engine Compartment (Engine Off)

Clearance lights and reflectors are clean and functional. All lenses are clean, notdamaged or missing.

Oil Level – Identify where the oil is. The oil level should be above the refillmark on the dip stick.

Coolant Level – The coolant should bed visible in the sight glass. If the enginewas cold you could remove the radiator cap and check the level.

Power Steering Level – Identify where the power steering is located. Power steeringlevel can be checked through the sight glass and should be above the refill mark onthe dip stick.

Air Compressor – Check that it is securely mounted and there aren’t anyair or fluid leaks.

Belts – Check that belt isn’t cracked, frayed or is excessively worn.Tension shouldn’t be more than 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch.

Leaks – Check for oil, fuel, coolant on the ground.

Exhaust System – Check that the exhaust system is securely mounted, connectedtightly, not damaged or leaking.

Drive Shaft (can’t see it) – Check that the drive shaft is securelymounted, isn’t bent or cracked and coupling are free of foreign objects.

Frame – Check for the frame for cracks, bends, loose or missing boltsand cracks in the cross members.

Side and Other External Checks 

Battery/Box – Check that the door is secure.

Sander – check the tubes and box for damage and that they tubes securelymounted and that the lid is secure.

Compartments – Check that the doors aren’t damaged, operate properlyand are secure.

Fuel Tank – Check that the cap and door are secure and that theiraren’t any leaks from the cap or lines.  


At this point the tester will ask if there’s anything else. If I forgot anythingI can mention it now and get it right. If I say that’s it then that’sthe end of the pre trip portion of the test. Whew!!!