KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) — Children across West Virginia are getting ready to go back to school and with that comes new warnings on how to stay safe when riding the bus.
Piedmont Elementary School kindergarten students learn how to be safe while riding the bus to and from school from Buster the robotic talking school bus.
Kanawha County Schools sponsored a safety drill Friday.
“The first day is heightened awareness of new surroundings for people,” bus driver Emily Lanham said. “Buses are out again. Kids are walking to and from stops. Even at the schools, kids are getting off loading and unloading.”
A group of kindergartners from Piedmont Elementary went through safety drills to learn how to stay safe in the ride to and from school.
The children watched demonstrations how to act while riding on the bus, including not getting out of their seat or moving around when moving.
Buster the Bus was also at the event to demonstrate the danger zone where the driver cannot see them. The children learned where they need to stand or walk when a bus is nearby.
“After awhile people get used to the bus stopping at the same place,” Lanham said. “The timing is right and everybody knows that they have a school bus stop coming up. Oncoming traffic or behind us know that there is a school bus stop here. People get used to stopping at this time because it is consistently that every day.”
This year all school buses have cameras inside and out to capture video if someone drives past a stopped bus. This comes after an increase in illegal passing last year to 62,000 incidents.
“It’s extremely disheartening because that is a family,” executive director of transportation Brette Fraley said. “It’s not just the student, its the family, it’s the community and it’s everybody. It’s the community’s responsibility to get the students to school.
Kanawha schools also introduced a new radio technology that allows a bus to stay in communication even if they’re in an area of the county that doesn’t get radio or cell phone service.
“In the event of an emergency, if the cell tower gets overloaded with local phone traffic, we will still be able to talk to each other,” executive director of safety and security Keith Vititoe said. “So we can take care of our schools and better take care of our students.”
All Kanawha County students will go through similar training next week when school begins. The first day of school is Monday.