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bus - National School Bus Safety Week
Posted in on October 20, 2023

Thank you, bus drivers and transportation team

This was National School Bus Safety Week, so we want to highlight and thank our bus drivers and transportation team for all they do to keep our students safe and get them where they need to go each day.

“We’re transporting students, so safety is our biggest concern – making sure they get to and from their destination safely,” said Tomica Gray, assistant safety tech in the Arlington ISD transportation department.

Gray is a 28-year veteran of the transportation department and was a full-time bus driver until she took on her current role two years ago. She knows that safety starts with the drivers.

“It takes special people to drive your buses,” she said. “And they’re good kind of people.”

Not only do they have to be able to drive a vehicle as large as a school bus, they also have to be able to deal with lots of kids at the same time.

But the kids are often what motivates the drivers.

“What I really miss is the kids,” Gray said about no longer driving full-time. “I had a group of kids from pre-K to sixth grade.”

Keeping those kids safe is what drives everything, from training to maintenance.

Gray’s role now is to make sure all drivers get the training they need, whether it’s when they first get hired or whenever they need a refresh. The training includes driving skills, obeying all laws and how to stay alert.

“All the things that possibly could happen, we try to avoid it,” Gray said.

Attention to safety doesn’t end after training. It’s part of the daily routine. And that starts with a pre-trip check of the buses and ends with a post-trip inspection.

“They do a check of the bus to make sure it’s going to operate properly on the road with the students on board,” Gray said.

The buses themselves are equipped with many safety features, too, including rearview cameras, interior cameras and child monitors that ensure no child is left on the bus. And newer buses have seat belts. All buses have GPS, so the transportation department knows where each bus is at all times, and drivers can reach dispatch on their radio at any time.

When anything on the bus doesn’t work correctly, the district’s maintenance team is quick to fix it. In addition to regular maintenance, bus drivers can take their buses to the maintenance garage any time.

“The school day doesn’t start in the classroom,” said Arlington ISD interim superintendent Dr. Steven Wurtz. “For many of our students, it starts at their bus stop. We know that our bus drivers, dispatchers, mechanics and entire transportation team all play a critical role in the education of our students.”

Gray knows that’s true firsthand.

“We’re the first ones the students see in the morning besides mom,” she said, “and that smile counts. It takes them a long way.”

Thank you, transportation team!