School bus drivers preparing for the new year

CLINTON, Ind. (WTHI) - South Vermillion Schools start up on Tuesday.  But for their bus drivers, they’ve already been to class brushing up on school bus safety.

Imagine that your child’s bus is filling with smoke.  That’s the scenario of this training session for South Vermillion school bus drivers. The goal is simple: evacuate the bus quickly and safely.

“It makes you come to the realization that something like this could really happen,” said Michele Bogetto, a South Vermillion school bus driver.

Before the start of every school year, this is the drill for South Vermillion drivers.  And like the students they drive, there’s also some classroom work involved in their training.

“You never think it could happen to you,” Michele told us.  “The idea that I now know what to do in a situation is reassuring.”

Of course, stop arm violations weigh heavily on the minds of school bus drivers as they head into a new year.  This is when a vehicle passes a school bus with its stop arm extended and red flashing lights on.  But the Vermillion County Sheriff’s Office says word has gotten around that South Vermillion’s buses have cameras on the side of them.  This has reduced the number of stop arm violations.

“There are cameras in the front and back of these buses, and on the arms,” said Deputy Mike Phelps of the Vermillion County Sheriff’s Office.  “We’ll get your plate and who was driving the vehicle.”

It takes a lot of time outside of their normal shifts for bus drivers to get themselves ready for the first day of school.   But the drivers here at South Vermillion say it’s worth it…

“I guess it’s the cargo we carry,” said Michele.  “You can replace things, but you can’t replace people.”

The state Department of Education conducted a survey to see how many stop arm violations happen in one day.  188 school districts reported more than 2500 stop arm violations.  South Vermillion reported only 30 all last school year.

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