2 accidents and alleged assault raise concerns over school bus safety

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Over 20,000 students ride on Horry County School District's buses every day. With that ride for students, comes concern to parents over their safety.

Two of those buses were involved in accidents this week, and another had an alleged assault between a male and female student. The district says the county is aggressive with training their bus drivers.

"There is mandatory training they undergo each year. Their training deals with the operation of the vehicle itself, as far as driving and rules of the road," says Teal Britton, a spokesperson for the Horry County School District.

One trainer with the district says they are hands-on with their training, spending one-on-one time with each driver before and after they are certified.

"There is additional health, safety, and management issues, as well. That includes disciplinary actions since you have 50 or so children all together," adds Britton.

The driver has to sit through hours of classes about management and emergency response. During their training, they will study up on how to use an AED, the best way to break up a fight, and what to do if a student has a medical emergency.

"A lot of the training that kicks in is what would happen in a classroom, it is instinct. There are drivers that, once the bus is pulled over, will physically separate children who are fighting, if that is what is needed until police can arrive," Britton says.

Outside of the classroom, they spend hours on the road with an instructor before taking the keys to drive students to school.

The school understands the driver does a lot more than steering the bus. In fact, a physical test is also part of their training.

"There are physical requirements. In the event there was an emergency, you'd have to have physical stamina, physical wellness, to be able to evacuate the bus and get everyone in a safe spot," explains Britton.

While there were two accidents this week, the district says the number of accidents the buses are in are relative to the amount of miles they drive.

"We go over three and a half million miles each year," says Britton.

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