CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WOWK) — School is getting back into full swing in many parts of our region, and as such, you’ll be seeing a lot more big yellow school buses out and about.
Cabell County Schools bus operators are training for the school year ahead Thursday but said one of their main concerns for the safety of the students is that other drivers on the road know what to do when those school bus lights flash.
“The technical word for it is a school bus rodeo. It’s like an obstacle course for school buses…They do backup exercises, pupil drop off, railroad crossings, all kinds of different exercises,” says Carol Hall, supervisor of transportation for Cabell County Schools.
While the professional drivers gear up for the beginning of the school year, they’re also warning all other motorists on the road to be aware.
“We are going back to the pre-2020 schedule which is 30 minutes earlier than the buses were out last year. So we’re gonna have different people, different motorists that see us in the mornings,” said Jeff Stover, a school bus operator for Cabell County Schools.
Stover said as a school bus operator, he’s seen all kinds of erratic behavior from drivers.
“I’ve had someone come down the wrong direction, on Washington Avenue, with the bus stopped, people behind me stop, but this guy turned off and came right at us. [I] laid on the horn, the kids knew, ‘Oh, there’s something going on,’ they stopped and this guy just kept going right on through,” Stover recalls.
To try to mitigate these scary situations and keep kids safe this year, bus drivers are urging people to know the law surrounding stopped school buses.
“The yellow lights come on, that means it’s we’re about to stop. Don’t hit the accelerator and try to fly by, it’s time to slow down and be ready to stop. The red lights come on, no one in either direction, forward or behind us should be going anywhere. They should stop at least 20 feet in front of the bus or 20 feet behind the bus,” Stover says.
For those drivers who don’t heed the flashing school bus lights, bus drivers said there are consequences.
“We’ve got cameras on the back, we got cameras on the front; so if somebody goes by us we can review that tape check the license number, get the persons face if possible, and then we can go on from there and file a complaint through the magistrate’s office,” Stover said.
The main concern for all involved is simply the safety of the children on board.
“It’s against the law, you could hurt a child, and that’s the number one thing is safety for us,” Hall said.
According to West Virginia Code, not stopping for a bus with flashing lights on is a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of up to a thousand dollars and up to six months in jail.
The best practice is to give those school buses some room.