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Lancaster County Schools commemorates School Bus Safety Week by sharing stories, emphasizing safety

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 6:37 PM EDT
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ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) -It is the third week of October, which means School Bus Safety Week.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says four to six school-aged children die from school bus accidents each year. It is about one percent of all traffic related fatalities in the country. While everyone works for that number to be 0—NHTSA says students are 70 times more likely to get to school safely on a bus than in a car.

Part of that reason are bus drivers. As parents load their students up on the bus, it is easy to assume they are safe. Parents do not often think twice about their students after they get on the bus, but it is the bus drivers making sure all safety aspects happen. The ones like Lisa Plyler.

”I’ve had kids riding the bus since kindergarten and now they are getting ready to leave me they’re graduating,” says Plyler.

Plyler gets on the bus she has been driving for 22 years. For her, it is more than just a job.

”I’m not quite sure because when I was in school myself I hated school. But I can’t wait to get them in school to learn because they are our future. I love my job,” she says.

Plyler’s passion for her job pours into the kids she sees inside the bus every day.

”I would take a gun shot for any of my babies that get on my bus. I just would. I love them. They are mine,” she says with tears in her eyes.

She says she wants to see all her kids succeed and that’s why safety means so much for her, especially after experiencing a crash she still thinks about 21 years later. Plyler was driving the bus one day and stopped as a student was supposed to get off the bus. She says she often looks into her rearview mirrors to make sure everything behind her is ok. She says this time she was extremely glad she did.

A truck she says carrying a Bobcat was barreling down the road. Despite her stop sign being out and the lights flashing, she says the person was not stopping. She told the student to sit down and wait. The student was not harmed and she possibly saved her life.

”They hit us pretty hard. And three of my students and myself went to the hospital that day,” she explains.

A tragic accident that happened 20 years ago is why Lancaster County Schools Safety and Transportation Director Bryan Vaughn puts so much emphasis on School Bus safety every week. A student died after being hit by a school bus he was chasing; Vaughn remembers that day vividly.

He explained on his Facebook page why this was such an impactful day for him saying:

“I remember getting to that site where a small elementary child was struck by the bus as he was running after it in an attempt to catch it. The site of a deceased child was heartbreaking. Everything about that morning was terrible. The loss of a child, the devastation and hurt of the child’s parents and the bus driver who had to deal with this tragic event. This was the worst thing I had ever seen in my life and I had worked previously in law enforcement in a large metropolitan area and I had seen a lot before this.”

”Without a doubt that was the worst day I’ve ever experienced in my life,” says Vaughn

He says that incident changed his entire outlook on life and on safety.

”I think a lot of the decisions I’ve made over the last 20 years has been to make sure that we wanted to do everything we possibly can in the most conservative manner to make sure that never happens again,” he says.

Vaughn says many parents do not understand what goes into the safety on the buses. Bus drivers, according to him, have to focus on the road, the kids and the blind spots they have to watch for. He says that is why they have a strict hiring processes, a process where drivers driving record is scrutinized and intense training. They also do regular physicals and random drug tests.

For bus drivers like Lisa Plyler, her incentive to keep going is simple:

”I just love my kids. I want to see them grow up to do great things,” she says.

School Bus Safety Week ends on Friday. NHTSA says the safest place for your child to be traveling to school is on a school bus. For tips on how to make sure a student can be safe from the time they get to the bus stop to the moment they step off the bus, click here.

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