Who is driving our children to school?

Published 3:39 pm Monday, September 17, 2012

Shelby County school bus drivers must go through a background check to be hired. (Contributed)

By DALE BRAKHAGE / Community Columnist

This morning, someone you might not know very well gave your neighborhood’s children a ride to school. That person is the school bus driver, and there is no need to worry. Shelby County knows that person really well.

To become a Shelby County school bus driver, a person must be fingerprinted, then pass a rigorous background check, have a safe driving history, pass six extensive Alabama Department of Transportation written examinations, pass four actual driving tests, pass a medical examination, pass a fitness test, and pass a detailed 69-part hands-on mechanical bus equipment inspection test.

If that sounds like a lot of testing, consider the cargo they transport. Our children are riding those buses, and it takes a special person to drive them.

According to Kevin Snowden, transportation coordinator for Shelby County Schools, ”We don’t advertise for school bus drivers. New drivers are recommended by current Shelby County drivers.”

Bus driving is all about safety. Bus drivers must perform tasks correctly the first time and every time. For example, drivers must inspect 69 safety points on their buses before every trip. Drivers must not only safely drive the same routes every day, but they must also pick up and deliver the children at the same time every trip. Drivers keep complete records of every action, every day. Being a bus driver requires a lot of attention to detail!

Dan Morton is a teacher at Oak Mountain Middle School. He has been safely driving school buses in Indian Springs for 12 years. “I became a bus driver because I like driving and being around young people,” recalls Dan.

He has a message for all the automobile drivers of Indian Springs. “Most importantly, please pay attention to the school bus whenever its red lights signal ‘STOP.’ That means children are getting on or off the bus.”

Statistics show that loading and unloading are the most dangerous times for children riding buses. The lives of those children are literally in your hands when you drive a car near a school bus. You cannot be too careful near buses. Watch out for our children!


Dale Brakhage writes a weekly column about Indian Springs and its residents. You can reach him at dale@dalebrakhage.com.