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School Bus Driver Talks About His Icy Hill Maneuver

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - It's the video that many of you have been talking and posting about, and now it's a real-life lesson in how to drive in extreme winter conditions.

A bus, with some Patrick Henry Middle School students on board, made its way down an icy hill Wednesday, while avoiding crashing into a parked car.

It started when a School Bus, Inc. driver decided not to risk going down the icy hill at 28th and Willow.   So she did what the company encourages its driver to do:  get help when the weather's bad.  Manager Jim Shafer arrived on the scene and used his 39-years of bus driving experience, plus gravity, to get down the hill.

The slick street was treacherous enough on foot.

"And it was very icy walking across the street, you see me grabbing the mirrors to keep from falling down,"  School Bus, Inc. Manager Jim Shafer said.

And once Jim Shafer got behind the wheel, he shifted into neutral and took his foot off the brake to begin the bus ride down the slippery hill, steering clear of a nearby parked car.

"When I first left and those duals didn't come up over that crown right away, I looked back and I kept my eye on the rear-view mirror and I'm going... ehhhh... this is going to be close!  And before I got to the car, if you watch the video, you can actually see the back end came up on the crown, and just down through," Shafer said. 

For many drivers, our first instinct would be to slam on the brakes going down that icy hill.  But Shafer says, in most cases, that's the worst thing you can do.

"As soon as you brake, you lose all steering and you lose all traction, so if your tires are stopped wherever, centrifugal force takes you, that's where you're going.  So you need the tires to keep turning to stay with the ice, so it gets you where you want to go so it doesn't slide," Shafer said.

It's a maneuver Shafer has calmly performed many times before in icy conditions.   He says he's surprised and a little embarrassed by all the attention it's getting. 

"To me, it was just another day at the job.  I didn't think too much about it, to tell you the truth," Shafer said.

Some people are posting on our KELOLAND Facebook page that the bus driver deserves a raise. Shafer, who's the manager of School Bus, Inc. and in charge of payroll, says he's not about to give himself a raise.  Like he says, it's all just part of the job.

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