School Bus in Snow: Are School Buses Good In Snow? (Safety)

The different school buses have different weights to them. The heavier the bus the better the traction. Also, they are supposed to have very deep treads on the tires for better grip. However, most people point to the driver, not the bus as the problem for a lack of safety when driving a school bus in the snow

Because of their weight and the tire tread depth along with chains and other factors, school buses are very good in the snow. Their ability to shift to very low gears also helps make sure the bus travels through snow without getting stuck. However, no one can be good when there is black ice on the road.

To learn more about this topic, just continue to read our article. It has this information and more so you can drive safely when winter hits the area you are living or traveling in. Take a few moments to see how this important information can help you out.

Are School Buses Good in Snow?


Many buses come with an elevated frame. Not only does this help you drive when the snow piles up but it also helps you when you have an accident. Lower vehicles will go under the frame when they can’t stop on the ice.

That is just one part. many of the rear engine vehicles also have rear drive wheels. That means more weight is on the rear tires helping them with traction when things get slippery. But that is not all.

Goodyear Tire company has said that they continually improve bus tire technology ensuring that the tires you place on your school bus can handle the tougher winter conditions.

In addition to all of this, school buses are often equipped with electronic chain mechanisms. These chains are lowered by the driver, who then drives over them to get better traction. When not needed, they are raised up.

This technology helps make school buses very good in snow. However, most websites talk about driver and driver error. The question is not ‘are school buses good in the snow’ but ‘is the driver able to drive in snow?’

Who is behind the wheel, their experience in driving in snow, and other important factors play a large role in if the school bus is good during the winter.

How do School Buses Handle The Snow?

School buses are provided with a lot of safety devices o help them make their way to their many destinations. One safety device has been mentioned already and helps provide traction when things get icy.

Another safety device is the Elston Traction Sander mounts which go in front of the drive tires. When a button is pushed, sand, gravel, or grit is dropped in front of the tired to provide better traction.

These safety devices help the school bus handle a lot better in snowy conditions. The main question to ask is will the school bus you buy and want to convert have these safety features on them?

If you drive slow enough, the school bus should handle fairly well because of the weight of the vehicle. If your tires are in good shape and have a deep tread, then those tires will help handling as you drive.

Most important will be the driver. If they over-react, panic, or make too sudden of a move or even drive too fast, then the bus may not handle as well as you would want. The low gears are there to help you go slower and get better traction.

Are School Buses Safe in The Snow?


Yes, they are safer than driving a car. One reason for saying that is that, as we mentioned earlier, the school bus frame is about 30 inches off the ground. If another vehicle (car), slides into your school bus, its frame should go underneath the school bus frame preventing any further damage to your bus.

Also, there are numerous safety devices on the school bus these days that help make it a safe vehicle to drive in the snow. With its lower gearing, automatic transmissions, for the most part, you should be able to keep your speed low enough to avoid any major incident.

The biggest issue that would make the school bus unsafe would be the driver. If they are not trained to handle the snowy conditions, then no matter what safety equipment is on board the bus, you may still have a lot of issues.

Are Buses Safer Than Cars in The Snow?

Logically, you could say that they are. Because of their weight, they move slower than a car and any impact would not create as much damage to the bus as it would on a car. Plus, the school bus construction materials are better, heavier, and stronger than the construction materials used to make a car.

That is a big factor in protecting the occupants of the school bus. The stronger metal should prevent a lot of damage inside and out. A lot will depend on how you construct the interior of your school bus conversion.

Because school buses were originally designed to haul children from one place to another, extra requirements and laws have made this vehicle very strong and able to protect its occupants.

The same requirements and laws do not necessarily apply to regular cars and trucks. The school bus may also have better safety equipment built-in to make sure they are safer than other vehicles on the road.

How do Chains Work on a School Bus?


This also depends on who you talk to. Some people think they are great and add a level of safety to driving the school bus. However, others are not convinced and feel that chains do not provide much help at all.

The device we mentioned earlier does have its vulnerable spots as the vehicle needs to be moving for those chains to work. They are not that good when the vehicle is stopped. They are also fairly expensive to buy and maintain.

Regular chains that stay on the tire at all times are better as you can use them when you slow down, start-up and when driving. You have a little more effort to put regular chains on but in the long run they may be the best option.

Chains will also help you go slower which, in turn, provides better stopping ability and keeps you safer, especially on hills.

How do School Bus Snow Chains Work

It depends on the type of chains you buy and put on your vehicle. There is the traditional style of chains where you have to lay them out in front of each tire, then drive on top of them. After you do that, you have to get out of your vehicle and snap the chains n place and secure them.

Another system is the Onspot chain system, the one we have talked about a few times already. These are attached to the rear suspension of the bus and are lowered by a push of a button.

Once employed, they spin in front of the tire and you drive over them getting a little bit extra traction. Some people like this system as they do not have to get out into the cold and attach the chains.

But according to one school district, these chains are not as good as the traditional style.

School Bus Stuck in The Snow


You have probably seen the different videos and news stories depicting what happens when a school bus gets stuck in the snow. This is a very real possibility as school buses are not immune to snow, especially large snowfalls.

With the lower gearing that comes with the diesel motors placed inside of the engine compartment, it is possible to shift down and work your way out of a bad situation. If that is not possible, then you may have to call a tow truck to free the vehicle and get you back on the road.

Even the safest of drivers can get stuck in the snow so this is not something that only happens to novices, etc. Just remain calm and see what your options are before you take action. If you have any of the safety equipment that we talked about earlier, you may be able to work yourself free using those devices.

Some Final Words

While buses can drive well in snow, 90% or more of the time the problems you will have will be due to driver error. There are enough built-in safety devices and equipment to help you navigate snowy and icy roads safely.

If you drive slower, have chains handy, you should be able to get to your destination safely. School buses are built tough and if you insulate properly, you should keep warm while you are driving.

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