Richmond Co. bus drivers training to keep your kids safe

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News 12 First at Five / Friday, April 26, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- We talk a lot about safety in schools, but what about when your kid steps outside of school and onto the school bus to head home?

In Richmond County, more than 150 bus drivers are responsible for your kids as they go to and from school.

"The children, obviously, they're not mine so the fact that the parents are trusting me to get their kids to and from school safely is really big," said Ray Hoyt, who is training to be a bus driver.

Each year, dozens of new drivers go through classroom skills and on-the-road training preparing to handle any situation that may come their way.

"It all boils down to training," Hoyt said. "How well you're trained, how well you do in training, you're automatically gonna know what to do and what not to do and you can fall back on it."

On the road, drivers have to be ready for anything from unruly kids and parents to situations going on outside the bus.

"Really, you get up in the morning and you never know what your day is gonna be like," said trainer Judy Weber.

One of the most dangerous situations a bus driver can face is when someone who's not supposed to get on a bus tries to.

"The first thing they will do is shut the door and ask that person to come around to the window and speak to them," Weber said.

If that doesn't work, they are also trained to handle worst-case scenarios.

"Our drivers are trained that when a parent does step to that school bus, they have to unlatch that seat belt and stand up," Weber said.

They go through highway watch training to recognize suspicious activity. They also have school safety by radio.

"For us, we have to rely on our cops," Hoyt said. "They're the ones that come out and hopefully get there before the situation rises."

So far this school year, Richmond County School Safety has been called to assist on buses 58 times, but drivers like Hoyt are always the first line of protection for your child.

"No matter what, you want to make sure the kids [are safe]," Hoyt said. "You never know how unruly a parent might get. They might actually get into your face, but you want to keep yourself between them and the kids."

Richmond County has started hiring and training bus drivers earlier than in previous years so they don't come across any issues at the beginning of the school year.

If you are interested in becoming a bus driver, the transportation department will be having another fair in May.

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