Bus Drivers Keep Students Safe

by Austin Hayslip
Courtesy of A-State Department of Media

JONESBORO — “It’s a challenge. It’s a big challenge driving a school bus,” school bus driver Barney Totten said.

The most precious cargo you could ever transport. Fifty anxious kids sitting on the bus with their friends, waiting for their stop; the bus driver with one mission on his mind — getting them home safely. But before any driver is allowed behind the wheel, they go through pretty extensive training.

“You hit two cones, you fail,” Jonesboro Public Schools’ Transportation Director Mickey Long said.

After applying for the job, you immediately take a test.

“They have to take a written test, which is four parts. They have to take a general knowledge, air brakes, passenger and school bus, that’s the four sections,” Long said.

Then if you pass the test, you begin training for the district to ensure you can actually handle the bus. But before you’re allowed to drive on your own, you ride with the trainer. Then the trainer rides with you — this all before kids are even on the bus.

“Until those people feel good and the new person feels good, they’re not turned loose on their own,” Long said.

Totten said you’re doing more than just driving the bus.

“As a bus driver, you probably spend the biggest majority of your time looking at the student mirror up here in the front to see what the kids are doing in the back,” he said.

While there is a lot of attention on school bus drivers right now, Long is confident students are safe on his busses.