Triad School Districts Making Buses Safer | News
Those who pass a stopped school bus in Rockingham County will now have a more difficult time getting away with it.
The school district has purchased nine video cameras that will be focused on the bus's stop arm. The cameras will have a time stamp and will be rotated among the 151 buses in the fleet.
As classes begin on Monday, a week earlier than usual, school officials have a message for those who try to run a school bus's flashing lights and stop arms.
"If you're thinking about doing it this year, you might be the one passing the bus that has got one on there. So let's do the right thing and be patient," said Superintendent Dr. Rodney Shotwell.
Besides adding new tools, school districts are also improving safety by increasing training.
New drivers of regular school buses and activity buses must successfully complete 36 hours of training to get assigned to a route in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County.
Half of those hours are spent in a classroom. If they pass a written test, they will then spend 18 hours training in the bus itself.
Before potential drivers are even allowed in the classroom, an extensive background check is completed.
"We do a background check for criminal activity. We do a license check. They can't have more than five moving violations, any eluding police, no passing stopped school bus, and, in Forsyth County, a zero tolerance for DWI," said Rhonda Fleming, WSFCS transportation director.
Once out on the road, drivers are constantly monitored by a GPS system. Not only does the system track the location of all the district's buses. It also monitors every aspect of a bus's operation, including speed, whether a driver ran a stop sign, when the flashing lights and stop arm started and how long a bus was stopped.
The district has a day-long retraining before each school year starts. Bus drivers' licenses must be renewed every three years, and the district reqiures the 36-hour training at each renewal.