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How drivers prepare school buses for icy roads

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash.- Bus driver Gabriela Alves over at the West Valley School District checks more than a dozen different requirements two times a day before starting her route. This time another element is added to her list, snow.

This is the first time this winter that our local bus drivers have had to encounter a heavy snowfall.

"Anytime the first snow comes in a season, the anxiety is out there for all of us as drivers. So you just have to be really slow and cautious and really cautious with everything," said Alves.

As many as 28 bus drivers at West Valley School District pick up about 3,500 kids every day.

Transportation Director Jaimi Schmidt first checks to make sure the roads are drivable at 3 a.m. each morning before the school district decides to cancel or delay class. Schmidt says no matter how bad the snow gets throughout the day, if they pick the students up in the morning it's their job to bring the kids back home from school.

"If we bring them in, we don't call it early. We have to bring them home at their regular time," said Schmidt.

Alves says for her, driving in the snow is no problem. Each bus has a set of automatic snow chains she uses when needed. She says one of the biggest concerns she deals with on a daily basis is other drivers on the road.

"I've seen them either take the turn to quickly where they're sliding to oncoming traffic. That has happened to me on a bus where they are coming straight at me," said Alves.

Alves says all it takes is one car to make the wrong turn and put dozens of lives in danger. She urges drivers to plan for extra travel time and drive slow when passing school buses.

"That added minute is not worth it for anybody's sake," said Alves.

Local bus drivers are expecting to deal with some icy roads Wednesday morning. They are urging parents to check your local school districts website for any delays or cancellations.

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