By Destini C. Shope, Director of Community Engagement & Public Relations
Have you noticed the 30,000 pound, 40 foot object with flashing lights throughout the county? If you have driven around the county in the early mornings or afternoons, then you have most likely encountered this monstrosity of a vehicle carrying our children – it’s a school bus. In Pickens County, school buses transport nearly 3,000 students each day and drive over 12,000 miles daily. PCSD drivers and monitors have over 981 years of service combined. We are fortunate to have such devoted drivers.
Being a school bus driver doesn’t go without its challenges, but at the forefront of every drivers
mind is delivering every student safely to school and returning them home safely in the afternoon. Like their drivers, students receive training throughout the year and practice evacuating the bus should an emergency arise.
In July of 2018, House Bill 978 was passed. The bill contained many changes, but one critical change related to when you are required to stop for buses.
What does the law say about stopping for buses?
If you are traveling in the opposite direction, on a two lane road, you are required to stop when a school bus stops with its lights flashing and/or stop sign extended.
If you are traveling in the opposite direction, on a multi-lane road or divided highway with a dirt/grass/barrier median or turning lane, you are not required to stop; however, you should proceed with caution.
If a bus pulls into a “decel” lane, which are usually found at the entrances of a subdivision, all lanes of traffic must stop. This is because there is no median or division between the lanes of traffic.
For the safety of our children, choose to be observant and avoid distractions when buses are on the road.
Many times, folks have a lot of questions about different situations. Below, we will address some of these questions:
•Why can I not take my child to a different place to catch the bus if he/she misses their stop at home?
ANSWER: The driver is expecting your child to be at the regular stop. When you drive your child to another stop, it puts your child at risk of being injured. The driver is not expecting nor looking for your child. Keeping all kids safe is our priority. If your child misses the bus at your stop, please deliver them directly to school.
•What happens if I move?
ANSWER: First, you need to report to central registration to update your records. They will provide a new transportation form which is given to the driver should they need to contact you in the case of an emergency. Keep in mind that transportation forms are required to be updated annually and at any time there is a change in your residency.
•How are bus stops determined?
ANSWER: When students are living in areas where houses are close together, such as in subdivisions, stops are generally made at various intersections. In the more rural areas and on state highways, stops are generally door-to-door due to the distance between homes. It is safer to conduct door-to-door stops in those instances so that children are not walking on busy roadways.
•Why does my child have an assigned bus seat?
ANSWER: The primary reason is for safety purposes. If an accident should occur, the driver is required to have a list of students along with their seating assignment on the bus. Like a teacher overseeing her classroom, bus activity is under the supervision of the driver. They have the authority to assign seats to students.
•Do all buses have video cameras?
ANSWER: All buses are equipped with video camera systems with audio capabilities.
•What type of training is required for bus drivers?
ANSWER: Drivers must adhere to state, federal, and local policies/procedures for driving a bus which includes obtaining CDLs, passing a bus physical, drug and alcohol test, criminal background check, and successful completion of the Georgia DOE training classes. Once hired, drivers are required to attend the State Safety meeting, participate in ongoing training, and random drug testing.
•Which roads in Pickens County have the most people violating school bus laws?
ANSWER: According to the PCSD transportation department, Highway 53 (eastbound and westbound), and areas where there are passing lanes (old Hwy 5 and Hwy 53).
Here are some quick tips for
•Arrive at the bus stop five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
•Everything should be in your child’s backpack and remain there until they arrive at school.
•NEVER chase after the bus or walk/drive to another bus stop.
•Wait at the bus stop in a safe place and in an orderly fashion, at least 12 feet away from the road.
•When loading and unload the bus, always look for moving cars.
•Never operate a cell phone or use electronic devices when boarding or exiting the bus.
•Never wear ear buds or headphones when boarding or exiting the bus.
If you have a heart for children and the desire to be part of our transportation team that serves the families within our school district, you are invited to go online and complete an application. We are always hiring drivers. The website is www.pickenscountyschools.org, click on Central Office, Click on Human Resources, scroll to the middle of the page and click on Job Postings, click on Substitute, and look for Substitute/Bus Driver, and on the right-hand side of the posting you will see a button that says “apply.” Click on apply and proceed with the application.