School bus safety regulations in Georgia -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

School bus safety regulations in Georgia

School bus School bus
Mechanic going through the safety checklist Mechanic going through the safety checklist
Ricky Canterbury, Lee County Schools Director of Transportation Ricky Canterbury, Lee County Schools Director of Transportation

The school bus tragedy in Clay County raises questions about bus safety regulations.  Transportation officials in Lee County say they, along with all other public school systems in Georgia, have to follow strict state guidelines to make sure their precious cargo is safe.

74 Lee County buses run every day, transporting children to and from school. And every 20 work days these buses are rotated into the shop to be examined carefully by a mechanic. 

"We go through that bus from bumper to bumper. We check all lights, all gages, tires, tire rod ends.  We do everything that you possibly can see about that bus and put your hand on and pry to make sure it's working," said Ricky Canterbury, Lee County Schools Director of Transportation.

The mechanic has a checklist he runs through and that paperwork is added to their records.  "Regular X means a mechanic has to look at it and repair it."

Transportation officials say while this is the law for all Georgia school systems, this process also saves lives and money.

"It's a preventive means as well as safety, because if you got $100 part fixing to tear up and you don't see it and when it tears up it takes a $2,000 part with it then we got a problem.  And plus, as I mentioned earlier, we're hauling precious cargo," explains Canterbury.

The state also sends someone with the Department of Driver Services to conduct an assessment at every school system once a year, in addition to random visits. 

"They got the right to come in here during any school year and pick out "x" number of buses random and go through them.  So we know they come one time, but we don't know when they're coming the other times and they can shut you down if you don't," said Canterbury.

This entire process is put in place to prevent tragedies like the one on Tuesday in Clay County.  It's still unknown why that bus crashed, ejecting two 10 year-old girls. One of them was killed, the other remains in the hospital.

"It's a sad day, because even though this is Lee County, it doesn't matter if it's a north Georgia or south Georgia county.  It breaks my heart to see stuff like that.  And it brings up the question again about seat belts. A seatbelt would have probably saved that little girl," said Canterbury.

One of many questions that remain is unanswered.

"Right now you're safer without them you are with them. Or, from the money end, it would cost us a lot more to do it than it would cost us to lose. But at the same time you can't put a price on a child's life. So we're all a little tore up about what to do," said Canterbury.

Ricky Canterbury says while a seat belt could have saved a life in this case, he believes it's safer not to have them because it makes it easier to evacuate small children if a bus were to catch on fire, or crash into a pond.


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