Tennessee school officials, police crackdown on bus safety

Special Reports

WILSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – When it comes to school safety, the danger is not limited to school buildings; think about our roads.

Drivers blowing past stopped school buses– putting kids at danger, in Tennessee, we’ve seen instances where children are hurt or even worse, killed.

When you see flashing red lights, you need to stop, it’s the law.

Courtesy: Mt Juliet Police

“There have been some fatalities in the past, Lt. Charlie Caplinger said with Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Last year, THP had an enforcement effort in Dickson County and wrote several citations in school zones.

Captain Tyler Chandler, with Mt. Juliet police, told News 2 they will be focusing on traffic safety in and around school zones as they’ve done in the past.

“The school bus enforcement, which came during the last school year, as a result of complaints from motorists and bus drivers. Around 40 violators received citations during the whole school year,” Captain Chandler said.

“It’s gotten worse over the last few years because of distracted driving you know there are so many distractions going on while we’re driving,” Lt. Caplinger said. “Visibility does a lot for school zones just having an officer present in the school zones helps.”

Wilson County Director of Transportation, Jerry Partlow agrees, noting a loss of a minute due to waiting behind a bus, isn’t worth a lost life.

“I just couldn’t imagine losing a child under a position such as mine,” he said.

The bus driver, Sharon Reed, sees distracted driving as the problem.

“They’re not stopping, they’re on their phones,” she said.
She calls her kids her precious cargo.

“Thank God, knock on wood, I’ve never had any injuries,” Reed said. “Safety is my number one commitment. When you’re a bus and there’s so much distraction on the road nowadays you have to be so cautious and careful.”

Reed is calling on drivers to keep their eyes on the road.

This is only a start, the decision is yours. It’s on you to keep our kids safe.

“The final choice is made by the driver,” Lt. Caplinger said. “It’s not worth losing a life.”

Lt. Caplinger says if you don’t stop for a bus with its red lights flashing, you will be charged to the fullest extent.

THP hopes to place dash cams on school buses in a couple of years to try and curb crime.

As for Wilson County School system, they’re in need of more bus drivers– 15 to be exact. Fill out an application on Wilson County School’s website and head to their HR department.

News 2 is digging deeper into evolving safety plans in school districts across Middle Tennessee. 

We have special reports all day Thursday in every newscast that focuses on classroom safety, keeping buses and school zones safer, and new initiatives to crack down on inappropriate relationships between students and teachers.

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