Colorado Springs school district offers insight into school bus safety and regulations

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — In light of Monday’s deadly bus crash in Tennessee, FOX21 is learning more about what it takes to become a school bus driver in one local district.

According to the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles, all drivers within the state must have a commercial driver’s license. In addition, each driver must have previous bus training and submit to an annual check on their driving record.

Passing a yearly driving test and a background check are also required.

The average school bus carries 72 kids and with that comes the large responsibility of student safety.

“It’s a fun job to do but an important job to do,” said Jesse Hill, a school bus supervisor for District 20.

Hill has been driving school buses for 15 years now and says the process of becoming a driver is thorough.

“A lot of pre-trip inspection, bus inspections,” he said. “Driving countless miles and then you had to take a national test, a CDL test, in order to pass.”

School District 20 requires all drivers follow the mandated state guidelines but on top of that they also have their own series of policies and procedures.

“So we require that they go through first aid training,” said Allison Cortez, the Director of Communications with District 20. “We also require that they get a physical so we know they’re physically fit and sound. Then they also have to go through a type of training that enables them to know how to deal with aggressive situations on a bus.”

Having certification in both CPR and first aid is another requirement on the list.

The district says knowing how to deal with distractions on the bus is another vital safety measure all drivers are trained to identify and address.

“You have to get to know your kids,” said Hill. “You have to have somewhat of a relationship with your kids and talking with the kids even getting to know them a little bit, that makes a world of difference.”

Whether on a bus or in school, the safety of the kids is the number one priority.

“If you’re a teacher or a bus driver or a janitor or administrator within our district, the safety of your children is of utmost importance and so our bus drivers feel that and they take that very seriously,” said Cortez.

As someone who has driven thousands of children on numerous routes, Hill says parents should feel confident in the safety of the buses and the people driving them.

“A school bus is safer than your personal vehicle just because of the way it’s made,” said Hill. “The components within that, the training that a driver goes through, it really is the safest mode of transportation.”

School buses within the district also receive regular maintenance. As for the drivers, updates on training also occur often.

FOX21 attempted to reach other local school districts Tuesday regarding their policies and procedures but did not hear back.

 

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