Is learning to drive a school bus hard? (5 Skoolie tips)

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Is learning to drive a school bus hard? We will discuss the differences between driving a school bus and a car. We will also give you a few essential tips on manoeuvring a Skoolie

Is learning to drive a school bus hard?

Learning to drive a school bus is not as hard as it may seem, but of course, you must be aware of your Skollies’ dimensions, power and capacities. Good Skoolie drivers look into the distance, anticipate situations, act without delay and demonstrate prevention while driving. To drive a school bus:

  • ensure that there is always adequate space around the vehicle and monitor its blind spots;
  • constantly look around and see what is happening far in front of the vehicle and to the sides;
  • frequently look in the mirrors;
  • see possible dangers coming well in advance to take the necessary preventive measures;
  • take into account the errors that other drivers and pedestrians may make;
  • give way if doing so avoids risk to yourself or their passengers;
  • take into account rapid changes in road conditions, weather and traffic;
  • be courteous to other road users;
  • wear a seatbelt;
  • turn on the headlights at all times so that the bus is always clearly visible;
  • drive at a safe speed and slow down when road conditions can affect stopping distance or vehicle control.

Tips for newbies: driving a school bus safely

A large number of vehicles on the roads makes it difficult to drive safely, especially if the car being driven is a large one, such as a bus. Therefore, if you are a bus driver, follow these safety tips that we have for you.

  • Always report drivers who drive unsafely. Among the difficulties that exist on the road, bad bus drivers are the most dangerous of all. Therefore, you have the right and the duty to report any questionable or unsafe driver practices.
  • Keep your distance from other vehicles. There must always be some space between the bus and another vehicle. You will be the main culprit if the bus you are driving hits another vehicle from behind, regardless of the situation. Also, longer buses will require more distance between vehicles, so stop early when you see a red light.
  • Be careful with the blind spots on the buses. Other drivers may not be aware of the size of the blind spots on your bus. Therefore, it is important that the mirrors on the bus are adjusted properly, as they provide a wide view of the sides of the bus and allow you to see those blind spots. Before you start your bus and start driving, make sure the mirrors are in perfect condition.
  • Do not change lanes unexpectedly. Every time you change the lane in which you are driving unexpectedly, you are putting the safety of the bus and its passengers at risk. Whenever you change lanes, do it slowly and alert other drivers that you will.
  • Don’t back down unless someone helps you. When it comes to driving a bus or truck, backing up is difficult, even in safe conditions. If you do, try to have someone outside to indicate that the path is clear to reverse the bus. Also, do not do it if you do not see this person, as you could hurt him and the people around him.
  • Always check the status of the bus. Before you start driving your bus, inspect the condition of the vehicle, especially the brakes. Also, avoid starting the vehicle if you see fluid dripping from where the tires are. This may mean that the brake calliper has broken and the bus’s ability to break has been significantly reduced.
  • Do not accelerate when a passenger gets off the bus. Something that every bus driver should avoid is accelerating when a passenger is getting out of the vehicle. Rushing and starting the bus could throw the person off-balance, causing a fall that could endanger the life of the passenger. 

Also, do not accelerate quickly just after the passenger has finished getting off, as it is likely that the passenger will drop something just as they descend and want to return to pick it up.

Finally, in order to drive your bus safely, it is best to be careful, check the parts of the vehicle before you start driving, such as the rearview mirror and brakes. Also, you have to think about both the passengers and the drivers around you. 

Therefore, always keep a safe distance between your bus and the car in front of you and never accelerate irrationally when there is a passenger getting off the bus. Finally, the most important thing is that you always comply with the traffic rules when driving, because that way you will not only protect the integrity of the passengers but also yours and that of the vehicle.

Do you need a CDL to drive a Skoolie?

In most states, you do not need a Commercial Driver’s Licence (CDL) or endorsements to drive a Skoolie, as long as you have registered it for personal use. In the table below, you will see in which cases you may need a CDL to drive a Skoolie (or any RV for that matter).

StateCDL Required?Special License Required?
CaliforniaNoYes, if over 40′ motorhome or towing 10,000lb+ travel trailer or 15,000lb+ 5th wheel
HawaiiYes, for vehicles over  26,000 lbsNo
IllinoisNoYes, for vehicles over 16,000 lbs or towing over 10,000 lbs
KansasNoYes, for vehicles over 26,000 lbs
MarylandNoYes, for vehicles over 26,000 lbs
NevadaNoYes, for vehicles over 26,000 lbs
New HampshireNoNo
New JerseyNoNo
New MexicoNoYes, for vehicles over 26,000 lbs
New YorkNoYes, for vehicles over 26,000 lbs
North CarolinaNoYes, for vehicles over  26,000 lbs or towing over 10,000 lbs
North DakotaNoNo
PennsylvaniaNoYes, for vehicles over 26,000 lbs
Rhode IslandNoNo
South CarolinaNoYes, for vehicles over 26,000 lbs
South DakotaNoNo
TexasNoYes, for vehicles over 26,000 lbs
Washington D.C.NoYes, for vehicles over 26,000 lbs
West VirginiaNoNo
WyomingNoYes, for vehicles over 26,000 lbs or towing over 10,000 lbs

The bottom line

Whether preparing a trip for a long or a short stay, your Skoolie must be subject to regular checks and optimal maintenance to avoid any technical problems on the roads. In this way, passengers and the driver can fully enjoy their journey in great comfort. 

In addition to the usual checks, follow our tips before going on an adventure and make sure you take all the necessary precautions!

Do you have any questions, comments or suggestions on how to safely travel with a Skoolie? Let us know!

FAQ on Is learning to drive a school bus hard?

How fast does a Skoolie go?​​

A Skoolie usually can’t go faster than 65 mph, as most of them have built-in speed control. Do not forget that, essentially, a Skoolie is an (old) converted school bus. Still, if you manage (or ask a mechanic) to deactivate the speed limiter to your Skoolie, it can go as fast as any RV.  Now, depending on the size, an RV can go between 55 to 75 mph.  Check the table below for more details. 

Is a Skoolie considered an RV?

Yes, A Skoolie is considered an RV. They have become popular recently and are nothing more than converted school buses. They are spacious and offer plenty of room to decorate and furnish as you may please. 

How to learn to drive a bus?

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Be aware of any offset when turning left. Monitor the path of the rear wheels in your left exterior mirror to prevent them from hitting a vehicle or signpost on a traffic island

How to take a turn with a bus?

If you are turning right, keep the front wheels close to the left side of the lane to prevent the rear wheels from leaving the roadway. If you are turning left, keep the front wheels closer to the curb or to the right side of the road to prevent the rear wheels from overflowing into the other lane.

Is a bus difficult to drive? 

Driving a bus can be difficult. It has nothing to do with driving a car. In a coach, the gearbox displays 8 positions. You have to show great attention, not trust your intuition.

Is it hard to drive an RV?

Experienced motorists tell us that it is not hard to drive an RV, however, for a newbie, it could pose a challenge. It is recommended that before driving an RV you familiarize yourself with its dimensions, as you must quickly get used to the vehicle and know in what space you can park or if a road is wide enough to fit on it.


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