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Icy weather leads to problems for bus drivers as well

SCHOOLCRAFT, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - In icy, windy weather, it's hard enough for drivers to control their own vehicles on the roads.

But Wednesday, Newschannel 3 spoke with some drivers who have to manage a lot more than that.

As we've reported, there are a lot of factors that go into deciding if there will be school on any given cold day--not least of which is putting kids on a school bus.

Schoolcraft Community Schools graciously allowed Newschannel 3 to ride along to check out the conditions that drivers face.

When it comes to the buses, it's the cargo they carry that has officials erring on the side of caution.

Ice and snow have been a non-stop battle for Schoolcraft's eight drivers for days now, especially when it comes to rural roads--the primary pick-up location for kids.

"It's just an open field, and visibility can go to zero in a heartbeat," said Assistant Transportation Supervisor Marc Fox.

In Schoolcraft, little ones often ride three to a seat, which  means there are usually upwards of 65 kids on a bus, so for drivers in winter conditions, safety is the first priority.

The Superintendent and Transportation Department take to the bus routes themselves on winter mornings before making the call to cancel.

While the snow has finally stopped, the wind and bitter cold continue, making conditions just as treacherous.

Large snow drifts sometimes keep drivers from knowing if a child is waiting at a stop, and buses need extra time and space to operate safely.

"Our biggest concern right now is visibility; we have to have 200 feet before a stop," Fox said. "If we can't see the stop, we're not going out."

The Schoolcraft Community School district says that they try to make the call as early as possible, as to whether or not to cancel school, and work to inform parents no later than 5:30 a.m.

They've also sent a list of guidelines home to let families know when classes are typically canceled.

To see the letter for yourself, click here.