‘You’re hauling beating hearts’: School bus driver training of utmost importance

(Photo: WKRN)

ROBERTSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – A little over 7,000 Robertson County Schools students ride the bus to and from school each day.

That makes the bus driver position one of the most important jobs in the school district.

James Peters is one of the newest school bus drivers in Robertson County. He’s been through weeks of training, with an emphasis on safety.

(Photo: WKRN)

“It’s constant reiteration that the kids are the most important thing you’re hauling,” said Peters. “You’re hauling beating hearts.”

Peters still has more training to go and has to pass his final test before he gets behind the wheel with kids on the bus. That’s standard for new bus drivers.

Veteran drivers are required to get an annual re-certification.

Transportation Director Joshua Hinerman says the training is key.

“It’s important to remember that bus drivers have three classrooms, generally, sitting behind them,” said Hinerman. “They’re expected to comply with road rules, state rules and board rules. So they need to be able to focus on driving, and be able to manage students, and do that very well.”

(Photo: WKRN)

Like many school districts in Tennessee, Robertson County is short on school bus drivers.

Robertson County Schools is looking to hire around five new drivers.

The job is part time and doesn’t offer benefits, but it pays nearly $19 per hour. It’s also a massive responsibility.

The deadly bus crash in Chattanooga last November serves as a grim reminder of the precious cargo the drivers carry.

“It’s something you have to think about,” said Peters. “But you have to pay attention to what’s your task at hand for that day. And that’s to get the kids to school and get them back home safely.”