It's hard to believe, but school is officially back in session throughout Tennessee. For many parents this means having to adjust their work schedules for rides, while for many others this means having to memorize the numbers, stops and routes of the buses on which their children will be riding.
Interestingly enough, those parents whose children ride the school bus in Knox County will soon be able to feel a bit more comfortable in light of a recent announcement by district officials that meaningful changes are coming to its transportation policy.
These changes, expected to be rolled out during the school year, include:
- Uniformed law enforcement officials will periodically ride random school buses in order to monitor drivers and provide an additional security presence.
- Two cameras will be installed on every school bus to monitor drivers and students.
- Drivers will receive additional training, particularly as it relates to distracted driving.
- The district's transportation department will be subjected to a comprehensive audit by a third-party consultant.
Officials were moved to take action following December's tragic school bus accident in the East Knoxville area that took the lives of two young students and a teacher's aide. Investigators later determined that the fatal two-bus collision was caused by one of the driver's texting behind the wheel.
Thus far, it appears as if school officials are taking this crackdown on dangerous bus drivers very seriously.
In fact, one driver has already lost his route after he was observed texting while driving by a fellow motorist, who proceeded to report him to school officials. A subsequent investigation confirmed that the driver had indeed been engaging in distracted driving and that the bus was fortunately empty at the time of this otherwise negligent conduct.
It's encouraging to see Knox County take such a strong position. Here's hoping other school districts show the same level of commitment in keeping our kids safe.