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School bus drivers train to keep kids safe

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The safety of school children is in their hands of school bus drivers who have to contend with many obstacles. The job can be very stressful, making proper training for drivers very important.

First Student, a school bus company in Crest Hill, requires new bus drivers to go through 40 hours of classroom and behind- the-wheels training. The instruction covers driving basics as well as student behavioral management and emergency situations.

"We are teaching our drivers they have to pay attention to the little things, not let them become big things," said Roberta Almanza, instructor.

"Safety is number one. You can never be too safe," said Dennis Williams, instructor.

The safety training includes instruction on how to identify and handle bullying on a bus.

"Sometimes just talk to the person being the bully. Sometimes they do not even realize they are being mean. Just letting them know that what they said or what they are doing is not appropriate conduct on the bus," said Almanza.

A candidate has to master driving a bus, covering six areas continuously without assistance to prove they have the driving skills to transport children.

"I just want to be a great bus driver, making sure that get the kids to school and back safely," said Brandon Westmoreland, student.

At the end of day, drivers must check the bus to make sure no student is left behind.

"Being a parent, I know that safety is number one so I want to treat each kid as if they are one of my own," said Westmoreland.

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