Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 member Deb Biel loves her job as a school bus driver, but at times her outer-Northwest Portland route—with lots of curvy two-lane country roads—can be dangerous. Biel, 65, is a five-year employee of First Student, transporting students to and from Skyline K-8 school in the Portland Public School District.
On June 6, with two dozen children aboard on their way home, she was on Cornelius Pass Road waiting for a pause in oncoming traffic to turn left onto Kaiser Road. Checking her rear-view mirror as she’s trained to do every eight seconds, she saw a double dump truck coming around a blind curve behind her at approximately 45 miles an hour. The narrow road where she was stopped has no shoulder, just a few feet of grassy ground. Realizing that the truck wasn’t going to stop or even slow, she accelerated into the center of the road, giving the truck just enough room to pass her on the right. Her action stopped traffic in front of her, and she was pretty shaken up, but her focus and reflexes may have saved lives.
“The most important thing to stress is that all of us drivers need to remember our training,” Biel told the Labor Press. “Don’t become complacent, and don’t take anything for granted.”