Lamar County bus drivers brush up on safety

LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - As the summer comes to an end, Lamar County School District bus drivers are making sure students' safety is on the top of the list. According to Chief of Police for Lamar County School District Steve Rosser, student's safety has become imperative over the past few years.

"Years ago school safety was not something that was talked about publicly," says Rosser.

One notable law was reinforced to the bus drivers during the Lamar County School District's bus driver orientation.

[We] "remind them of Nathan's Law, and that one of the most dangerous times can be when children are loading and unloading off of a bus," added Rosser.

The drivers are trained to observe their surroundings while kids are getting on and off the bus. If a vehicle does pass a stopped bus, the driver fills out certain details on a form.

"It's very simple stuff," says Rosser. "Give us a description of the vehicle, basic description, color of the vehicle, make and model if you can get that, and specifically if we can get an accurate tag number."

Bus driver for 27 years, Vicki Townsend says even with the extra precaution, some are still breaking the law.

"It happens in the Oak Grove area on a daily basis," says Townsend.

Another danger, according to Rosser, is the potential to leave kids behind. Rosser says whenever drivers get on the bus the first thing they do is go to the back of the bus and turn over a sign to show the bus is "In Use". After the drivers run their routes they should check the bus to make sure all kids are off, said Rosser who added that once a driver gets to the rear of the bus they should turn the sign over to say "Bus is Empty".

Transportation Director for Lamar County Schools Keith Bounds says there are a couple of laws that are just as much for the public's safety as for the students.

"Buses shouldn't drive any faster than 50 mph, and those laws are insisted," says Bounds. "We don't use cell phones on a school bus, but our drivers keep their cell phones with them in case they do have an emergency. Traffic volume has a huge impact on school bus safety, so the public should consider leaving their homes earlier in the morning or choosing another route."