Going From A School Bus Driver To A Tractor Trailer Driver

Topic 25334 | Page 3

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Adirondack Bob's Comment
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Yes, no comparison to driving a car. But similarities between buses and tractor trailers. Wide turns, sitting up high, very large vehicle, pre/post trips, height concerns, much longer stopping distances, scheduled routes, navigating new routes, etc. Granted there's a lot of differences but, I see some similarities.


Testing/learning the pre-trip alone puts you far ahead. Navigating a large vehicle and dealing with tail swing will help too. You know a lot of what to look for over the guy who just drives a Pinto.

Yes Auggie69, more excellent points. I agree I know what to look for, granted trucks are bigger and more complicated. Thanx!

Adirondack Bob's Comment
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Well this may be the only area where I can offer a little help. I, too, transitioned from school bus to tractor. For me, the hardest thing was getting the backing down. The length, wide turns, and all are basically the same just a little wider and longer. My bus was an automatic but I fussed all the time wanting a manual. So the manual part for me was a breeze. Just take your time and take as much room as possible. Best advise given to me when training; take all that you can when turning because you can give a little but if you take too little you can’t take anymore once you have committed.

More good points, Brian! Wider turns. Check! Also, somebody mentioned how the steering wheel must be faster than on a bus. Check!

G-Town's Comment
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Bob knows...

I agree I know what to look for, granted trucks are bigger and more complicated.

I think you are "taking that" for granted. You know what to look for on a bus...

I suggest taking a good look at these links:

Bob you asked if your Bus Driving experience would lessen the amount of time in school and training. The answer is absolutely; no. School is a minimum of 160 hours. Road training can be as short as 3 weeks (Schneider) and as long as 3 months (Prime), and everything in-between. The majority of the first 12 months is all-about learning and adjusting to all of the challenges an entry-level driver will face. There is no short cut.

Will driving a bus help you learn skills, PTI and laws quicker? Although a few (rookies or even less experience) have given you something to hang-onto, basically telling you what you want to hear. Although well-meaning, not necessarily what you need to hear. The majority have stated the same basic information; bus experience is not going to make it easier to pass the CDL-A.

Of particular note is what Donna said:

I drove a school bus for five years before I started at prime. School buses have been automatic for 20 years. However with prime we’re pretty much all automatic trucks. My answer to u on the driving part is no it won’t help at all. Probably, will make it harder. The difference in the way it turns and backs and just the general difference in size, takes lot of getting use to.

IMO if you focus on aligning bus knowledge with all that you need to know to pass your CDL A, might actually create additional difficulty.

You can agree and disagree all you want...it's likely learning how-to drive, back, and inspect a tractor trailer is going to be the most difficult thing you've ever tried.

Not picking on you, or making an example of you; trying (possibly in-vane) to level-set your expectations and anyone else with a similar desire as yours.

Good luck.

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.


Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Donna M.'s Comment
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I would compare a bus to a car just larger. A semi has a pivot point a king pin. Makes a world of difference. In a semi if u took a left turn on a street as u would in a bus u would take out a stop sign, telephone pole, and fire hydrant. If u made a right turn on street u would take out the left lane cars. When it comes to backing there’s setups easy enough to learn however that trailer is going to pivot. First u got to turn the opposite way of direction u want and then what u gave, u must take back, and then u must chase that trailer into the spot with your truck, without the use of that big rear view mirror over your head. It’s difficult, and takes a lot of practice.

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