Columbia County Stresses Bus Safety For Back To School

 Nearly 14,000 students are expected to ride the bus to and from school in Columbia County on the first day of school Wednesday.

Becky Brickhouse has been a Columbia County bus driver for almost 20 years. The most frequent concern she hears from parents is about safety — and she makes it her top priority.

“The most important thing is when loading and unloading the bus,” Brickhouse said. “You have to watch the bus driver. I see you, you see me.”

Georgia has led the nation in school bus stop fatalities over the last three years.
Avoiding a tragic accident starts with kids arriving to the bus stop on time, Brickhouse says.

“Be at the stop so the bus driver can see you. If you’re running to the bus, that’s the danger.”

The National Safety Council recently released guidelines for keeping children out of harm’s way. Some of them include:

– When the bus arrives, stand at least three giant steps (about 6 feet) away from the curb.

-Never walk behind the bus.

-Stay away from the wheels of the bus at all times.

– If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk ten feet – that’s 5 giant steps – in front of the bus driver’s window. That way the driver can see you, and you can safely cross the street.

Dewayne Porter is the Transportation Director for Columbia County Schools. He says when parents have concerns about specific bus stops or routes, he follows up person

“If at all possible, I like to go out and see for myself, rather than looking at a map. A map doesn’t show you all the intangibles that that stop is involved with.”

As many parents get ready to send their kids out the door for this back to school season, bus drivers want families to keep some things in mind.

“Work with us,” Brickhouse said. “If we’re late, understand there’s a reason – the bus breaks down or there’s traffic or there’s a problem we have.”

More students than ever before are expected to be enrolled in school and riding the buses this year.

Porter says his team reviews bus routes and stops during the first few weeks of school and will make any necessary changes within a month or so.  

“Be patient with us,” Porter said. “We will iron out all the concerns as the days go by.”

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