Lynchburg, VA- Drivers you are about to have a lot more company on the roads. School buses will be out in full force next week as school starts up, and transportation officials want to remind you of a few things to help keep kids safe.
Bus drivers say one of the biggest problems they deal with is drivers not obeying their stop signs. But there are some new features on the buses in Lynchburg to protect bus drivers and your kids.
The wheels on the bus are going round and round again and kids are feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement.
"It's kind of new being in middle school now. We have to change in the periods and we only have four minutes to change classes," said Chloe Seng, a middle schooler.
"You get to do a lot of different classes that you haven't been able to do. And, you have a little more freedom than you did in elementary school so I think it's going to be cool," said Emma Clark, a middle schooler.
This ride is a practice run for these new middle schoolers, a time to get reacquainted with the rules of the bus.
"First thing is to establish who the boss of the bus is, and that would be me," said Effie Wynn, a Lynchburg City school bus driver.
Keeping control of the bus is a balancing act for bus drivers. They have to watch the kids, the road, and listen to their radios. But, too often drivers make this job hard by running their stop lights.
"Some of them will do like this, 'Oops." Then they will say, ‘I'm sorry'. But it's already too late you've already run the light," said Wynn.
This year buses in Lynchburg will have some new gadgets to catch offenders. There are two cameras inside the bus to watch the driver and the kids, and one outside can catch you.
"Running the school bus can be a loss of your license for a year, and also up to a $500 fine," said Mike Harmon, head of Safety Team for Lynchburg City School.
To avoid this hefty fine, transportation officials say keep this in mind.
"If you're going in the opposite direction of the school bus you still have to stop. Only time you don't have to stop is if there is a median barrier is dividing you two," said Harmon.
Once stopped they say drivers need to watch out for kids getting on and off bus stops. And be ready to wait.
"It can be very inconvenient riding behind the school bus. We appreciate their patience, and to be patient with our after all we are carrying their children or future on these buses," said Harmon.
"Bus drivers say kids play a very important role in getting to and from school safely. Once on the bus, drivers say it is important for kids to stay seated and to not make too much noise. Drivers have to look out for traffic, and of course keep their ear listen to their transportation radios.