CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Kanawha County Schools Transportation Supervisor Jimmy Lacy says it’s been a “wild” school year so far with a shortage of bus drivers, but they’re working to make sure the general public is patient when it comes to safety on the roads.
“We’re doubling up to get our kids to school, so we’re running a little later in places where the normal bus is already there and through. People are thinking ‘why are they here now?’ so just be on alert,” Lacy said.
Transportation officials held an event Monday morning outside the KCS transportation office in Crede to mark National School Bus Safety Week.
The theme this year is “1 Bus + 1 Driver = a Big Impact on Education.”
Lacy said the most dangerous part of riding the school bus is getting off and on. He’s urging drivers to slow down and stop when you see the bus lights come on.
“Just thinking of a kid getting hit or getting killed, it’s worth the extra time and the safety. We want to let them know that when you see a school bus, there’s always a kid around,” he said.
Mary Slate works out of the St. Albans school bus terminal and said it’s common to see drivers pass her by while her bus is stopped.
“People do not pay attention. I couldn’t tell you how many times cars run my red lights and kids actually be out ready to cross the road. We’ve had some really close calls of students getting hit,” Slate said.
New safety features on school buses this year include “angel lights” on the front of the bus for when it’s dark outside.
“It helps the kids to see across the road in the dark and it helps us to see the kids as they cross the road in the dark. It’s on all of our buses in the county,” Slate said.
According to a 2021 national survey, Lacy said illegal passing happened 50,000 times a day.
“All those chances of a kid’s life is not worth it,” he said.