Driving any large personal transport vehicle like a bus, RV or passenger van in winter means taking a number of precautions to stay safe on the road.
Even under the best of weather and road conditions, driving any large personal transport vehicle such as a bus, RV/motorhome or passenger van requires modified driving practices for safety. With winter weather in full force, there are a number of precautions that drivers must know and adhere to in order to drive safely in the varied conditions.
Increasingly, more families and groups have purchased our buses for sale such as a school bus, an MCI bus, or even a passenger van to transport members on outings. Still others use them for modified homes on wheels or they own a conventional RV or motorhome. No matter what the large passenger transport vehicle, driving in winter weather requires adherence to a number of driving precautions.
Every trip in winter should start with a pre-trip inspection of lights, mirrors, gauges, exhaust, suspension, and emergency accessories. In addition, windows, headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and the eight (8) light systems of school buses should be cleaned and checked frequently for snow or dirt buildup.
Next, you should move to checking wiper blades and washer fluid levels as well as the heater and defroster units for efficient operation. Of course, fuel level should be kept as close to full as possible and drivers should be sure to pay special attention to water hoses, belts and radiator hoses. In your final inspection be sure tires are in good condition as well as properly inflated. You should also carry a set of tire chains and put them on if the road conditions warrant it (more about this later).
When driving any large passenger vehicle in winter weather, you should always drive a little slower than usual. This applies whether you have a conventional motorhome/RV, passenger van or you converted a school bus for sale into a group transport or your modified home on wheels. Before you leave the curb, check for snow buildup on your roof and when you stop for gas, knock off any buildup of snow on the mud flaps. Always, be sure to start out at very low speeds and carefully test your brakes and steering to get a feel for the conditions.
Never use your cruise control in winter weather and always use controlled breaking with extra distance given between vehicles. Also, be on the lookout for phantom shoulders that snowplows sometimes create. If at any time you begin to lose traction and the rear wheels begin a sideways slide, ease off the gas, don’t make a fast turn away from the skid and don’t over steer. Instead, release the brake and the accelerator, and then steer into the direction that you want the vehicle to go. As always keep a sharp eye out for black ice as well as shaded spots, bridges, overpasses and intersections where ice can form first.
Snow chain requirements vary by state, time of year, as well as vehicle weight and passenger minimums. If you’re in a part of the country where they are recommended, be sure that you get some practice before you really need them as they always require the driver to be highly alert and hypersensitive to any action that they intend to take. Since stopping power and overall control is significantly diminished, it is important to think and look ahead, preplan all turns and stops, and increase your following distance.
It’s best to have someone with experience show you how to pick out and mount snow chains on your passenger transport vehicle. Iron link or cable link chains designed specifically for use on tires are the general requirement, although there are several similar methods to installing them. Some people that have purchased a school bus for sale may happily find that they have automatic tire chain assemblies installed. If your motorhome or RV isn’t equipped with four-wheel drive, you also may want to invest in a set of high quality show chains.
Speaking of motorhomes, their undersides are often exposed to the elements, which means you should seal them up to protect easily damaged electrical systems. Be sure to also protect pipes and tanks with insulation in extreme climates and keep plenty of antifreeze on hand.
Vehicles that run on diesel should utilize winterized fuel when possible which is available at truck stops in areas with very low temperatures. You can also purchase winter diesel fuel additives to prevent diesel fuel from thickening and potentially ruining engine parts.
If you know that conditions are going to be severe and the trip can be postponed, it’s always best to do so. However, for the most part, winter weather does not have to be a deterrent to getting around or traveling with your large personal transport vehicle. By using these and other tips that you can learn from experienced RV and bus drivers, you can still get safely down the road during winter for an adventure, vacation or just an outing.