Hamilton Co. bus drivers suspended, cited for safety violations - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Hamilton Co. bus drivers suspended, cited for safety violations

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Story by David Carroll

dcarroll@wrcbtv.com

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-  Thursday proved to be a bad day for a pair of Hamilton County school bus drivers.  One has been suspended, while another has been cited for using an outdated bus to transport students.

According to school district transportation supervisor Ben Coulter, one involved a county school bus, operated by Durham, which handles most of the transportation for the district. The driver did not use her stop sign when dropping off students. However, the stop was a right side only stop, with no students crossing the road.  It is still considered a serious violation, so the driver has been suspended from driving pending the results of the investigation.

The second incident was a "spare bus" being used to transport a sports team from Ooltewah Middle to Hunter Middle.  According to Coulter, the bus was not a Hamilton County approved bus.  Owners Ricky and Pam Stafford are independent contractors for the district.  The bus is supposed to be used by them for transportation services outside of Hamilton County, such as  charter trips. 
 
Coulter tells Eyewitness News, "The bus by itself is not inherently dangerous. It still has to be inspected every year by the federal government."  Tennessee state law mandates that buses be no older than 15 years old to transport students unless they have less than 200,000 miles, in which case they can be extended to 17 years. 
 
The Stafford bus is not approved for transporting public school students.  Coulter said the bus was pulled over and citations were given to the driver and owners of the bus.  He said the district is still investigating other details of the incident.
 
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