Wico. Schools Officials Stress School Bus Safety After Tennessee - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wico. Schools Officials Stress School Bus Safety After Tennessee Crash

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The top of a Wicomico County School Bus. (Photo: WBOC) The top of a Wicomico County School Bus. (Photo: WBOC)

WICOMICO COUNTY, Md. - The news of the school bus crash in Tennessee is enough to strike fear into the hearts of any parent who sends their children to school each day on the bus.  But Wicomico County School officials want local parents to know that they have nothing to worry about.

There are 128 bus routes that run through Wicomico County taking students to and from school each day.  And there are 217 certified school bus drivers, certified by the state of Maryland and Wicomico County Board of Education, responsible for getting students to school and home safely.  Each year, those drivers must complete training programs, pass an annual physical, and be subject to random drug testing.  And even before they can be considered to be a driver, an applicant must have a commercial license and have a clean driving record and background check.

Once those initial steps are complete in the hiring of a driver, there is still more training they must go through which is conducted by the school district.

"They do 18 hours in classroom work before they can progress to the driving stage," said Rick Smoak, the transportation manager for the school district.  "And then they have nine hours after that behind the wheel, actually driving with one of these driving instructors."

The conversation has arisen across the nation and here on Delmarva over whether school buses should be equipped with seat belts.  School buses in Wicomico County do not currently have seat belts installed.

"I can tell you that we are very vigilant about student safety," said Superintendent Dr. Donna Hanlin.  "Making sure that our students are safe on school buses.  So certainly, if that's a conversation that we need to have, we will definitely have that conversation."

But with or without seat belts, district transportation officials believe parents should have no fear."

"I want to assure the public," Smoak said, "the school bus is the safest land vehicle in the United States, as is."

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