Group calls for better safety on Hamilton County school buses - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports


Group calls for better safety on Hamilton County school buses

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A group is calling for better safety on school buses in Hamilton County. This comes nearly a year after the Woodmore bus crash that killed six children.

"We want our kids and we want our communities to know that this is important. We haven't stopped," Walt Westfield, an organizer for the Stand Up For School Bus Safety coalition said.

Walt Westfield and Ezra Harris stopped by New Monumental Baptist Church in the Woodmore community on Thursday. They handed out flyers that said "Stand Up for School Bus Safety."

"This touched our neighborhood. This touched the neighborhood in which I live in. It touched our school. It touched our parents," Ezra Harris, the president of the Woodmore Neighborhood Association said.

That's why Harris was carrying a poster to remember the six children killed in the crash. He said it's a reminder for everyone to never forget what happened nearly a year ago.

"It absolutely broke my heart. Once you become a driver, these children become your children," Lisa Fairbanks, a school bus driver said.

It isn't just community members calling for change. It's bus drivers like Lisa Fairbanks too.

"I want to make sure that the children on our buses are safe, tooken care of at all times," Fairbanks said.

She's a driver for Durham, which operates a majority of the school buses in Hamilton County.

The group is looking to school board members to take action.

"I don't see anything on there that we're not already doing. So, I'm not real sure what they expect us to do," Rhonda Thurman, a school board member said.

The coalition wants a safety hotline to be created and for procedures and practices to be reviewed. Those include bus maintenance, training, and student behavior.

Thurman said all have been addressed.

Durham implemented several changes after last year's deadly crash.

That included an online complaint system that they say resulted in a big drop in the number of complaints. They also installed smart cameras and added bus monitors to improve driver behavior.


School Patrol

David Carroll covers education news and issues at schools across the Tennessee Valley.


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