Professional Driver's Handbook

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Daily circle check

  1. Ensure the vehicle is secure (parking brake applied or wheels blocked), gear lever is in neutral/park and the ignition is switched off.
  2. Open the hood. Check fluid levels, power steering oil, coolant (do not remove rad cap), batteries, drive belts (tension, wear), cracked or bent fan blades, hoses for leaks, fraying or poor connections, loose electrical connections.
  3. Enter the bus. Adjust the driver's seat so that you can comfortably reach all the controls, then put the seatbelt on and adjust it properly. From your sitting position, look into the interior and exterior mirrors. Adjust the mirrors for maximum side and rear view vision.
  4. Start the engine, noting ease of starting. Listen for unusual noises and check that warning lights go out and oil pressure and charging rate are normal. If the vehicle is equipped with a coolant temperature gauge, ensure that the reading is normal.
  5. Check the operation of the clutch (if fitted) and the brake pedal for excess travel and sponginess (vacuum brakes only). Make sure the accelerator pedal is not binding and that the engine returns to idle rpm after being accelerated. Check operation of the hand throttle (where fitted).
  6. To check for excessive steering play, turn the steering wheel to the left and right until you feel resistance. Press the horn button. The horn must be audible under normal conditions. Check operation of the service door.
  7. Turn on the interior lights, heaters, defroster, circulation fans, windshield wipers and washers to make sure all work. Check the windshield for major cracks and stone bruises that could affect the driver’s vision, in accordance with current regulations.
  8. Check the location and serviceability of the fire extinguisher, first aid kit and warning triangles or flares.
  9. The inspection decal information should match that of the safety inspection certificate.
  10. Each passenger seat frame should be checked for security to the floor, and seat cushions to the frames.
  11. With the ignition switched on, walk towards rear of the bus, opening the side window exits and the rear emergency door to activate the warning buzzer (not fitted to panel vans).
  12. Switch on the high beam headlights, clearance lights, left and right turn signals, four-way hazard lights and high-low beam switch to observe the function of the instrument panel indicator lights. Leave the left turn signal and high beam headlights on.
  13. Leave the bus and begin at the front of the bus.

    Outside checks - systematic
    • Check radiator, grill, front bumper, headlamps, clearance lights, left front turn signal. Ensure that the engine hood is secure and the licence plate is valid and clean.
    • Check left front tire(s) - (for adequate tread depth, cuts or bulges of the sidewall, tread separation and proper inflation), rim(s) (for damage to the tire bead area), lug nuts (for rust around the contact surfaces, indicating looseness, or shiny rings, indicating rotation of the lug nut), suspension, left door(s), window(s) and mirror(s) for security.
    • Fuel tank, bracket/straps, cap.
    • Check left side marker lights, reflector (where fitted).
    • Check left rear - tire(s), rim(s), lug nuts, suspension.
    • Check left rear turn signal, licence plate (validity) and light, tail lights, clearance lights and brake lights.
    • Tailgate security.
    Return to the driving compartment, press dimmer switch and turn on the right turn signal then continue with outside check.
    • Check front, right turn signal.
    • Check right front - tire(s), rim(s), lug nuts, suspension, right door(s), window(s), mirror(s) for security.
    • Fuel tank, bracket/straps, cap.
    • Check right side marker lights, reflector (where fitted).
    • Check right rear - tire(s), rim(s), lug nuts.
    • Check right rear, turn signal, tail lights, clearance lights and brake lights.
    • Check underneath vehicle for fluid/exhaust leaks.
  14. At the rear of the bus, open the rear emergency exit door to check for smooth operation, the audible warning buzzer and latch security.
  15. At the rear of the bus, the exhaust tail-pipe should be properly secured to the frame and chassis and should not leak.
  16. Check driver's door to ensure that the lock and latches work properly. If possible, observe that the exhaust system is secure, properly suspended and not leaking.
  17. Return to driving compartment. Cancel the right turn signal, activate the four-way hazard lights and check that they are operational at the front and rear of the vehicle. To check brake lights, have someone assist you, or if this is not possible, use a wedge between the seat and the brake pedal to lightly apply the brake lights. Select a gear or drive and, at idle rpm, release the clutch (if fitted) until the rpm drops, which indicates the park brake is holding. Release the park brake, move the vehicle forward slowly, depress the clutch pedal and apply the foot brake to stop the vehicle noting any tendency for the vehicle to pull to the left or right or for the brake to grab.
  18. The school bus loading and unloading safety lights, stop arm and strobe light function should always be checked while the vehicle is off the public highway.

Routine checks

Cleaning the bus is important. For safety's sake, the vehicle must be maintained at all times.

On a weekly basis, or more often if required, you should clean the:

  • floors and steps,
  • interior and exterior mirrors,
  • windows, inside and out,
  • seat,
  • exterior of the bus, and
  • repair minor defects that you have come across on daily checks.

Emergency equipment

By regulation, each school bus must be equipped at all times with certain emergency equipment. This equipment includes:

  • three flares (reflectors)
  • fire extinguisher (located where it can easily be reached by the driver)
  • first aid kit (Car Behind Kit, CSA Kit or equivalent for all registered school buses)


Rev: 2017