For bus riders, driver knows best

TUPELO – There’s one rule of thumb when getting on the school bus – watch the driver.
Lee County School District Transportation Director Ralph Capps and Tupelo’s director, Kenneth Roberts, said the first few days of catching the bus will be a learning process for many new riders and their parents.
Even though pickup and drop-off situations are different in the city and county, both men agree that getting everyone to and from school safely is the main priority.
“Watch the driver at all times,” said Capps, whose rural bus routes don’t have to deal with the same traffic as the city bus drivers. “That driver will tell you what you need to do. He’ll tell you when to board, when to cross the street and when to stop. It is key for people to understand that. Our drivers are trained to get kids on and off the buses safely.”
Most of Capps’ passengers get picked up and dropped off at their homes. But in Tupelo, children are picked up at bus stops located in different areas throughout the city. Like Capps, Roberts said watching the bus driver is the key to boarding the buses safely.
“Kids need to get to their designated bus stops at least 10 minutes early,” said Roberts. “This is our first year in our new school zones so things are going to be a little different. But as long as people get to their stops in adequate time, things will run smoothly.”
Roberts and Capps said parents can and should play a major role in getting children onto buses safely.
“We encourage parents to wait at the bus stops with their kids for the first week, especially younger kids,” Roberts said. “Younger kids love buses, and when they see those flashing lights they just run to them and that’s dangerous. Parents can be at the bus stops to make sure they don’t run into the streets.”
Once on the bus, students have some safety responsibilities. Capps said it’s important that students get on the buses, find their seats, sit in them and be quiet.
“Bus drivers can’t watch the kids and the roads,” he said. “Their concentration needs to be on the road and they can’t do that with kids misbehaving behind them.”

Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.

Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal