Recent school bus crashes raise concerns over school bus driver shortage and safety | #schoolsaftey

This photo is enough to scare any parent. The image from Alamance County show the aftermath of a bus crash that injured seven children on Thursday. Troopers say 75-year-old driver, Ronald Farrow, veered off the road and crashed into this building. He was eventually charged for failure to maintain lane control.

A school district spokesperson says Farrow previously passed a physical and a D.O.T test to drive. Then, the next day in Wilkes County, a 46-year-old driver, Kelly York, is charged with driving and wrecking a school bus while under the influence of impairing substances. Officers say her bus hit the Wilkes Developmental Day School while she was backing up.

The Wilkesboro Police Department, says there were five people on the bus, including the driver, when the incident happened, but nobody was hurt.

All of this is causing some parents we spoke to off-camera to ask, what’s going on? Are districts hiring people to drive who aren’t qualified? Wilkes County Schools say one of the first requirements is to get a commercial driver’s license through the state.

“Once they obtain that CDL and are employed by us, they are then added to a random drug and alcohol testing,” said Morgan Mathis Wilkes County Schools Public Information Officer.

The Alamance-Burlington School System has similar standards for it’s drivers but are not going to be considering adding an age restriction following the 75-year-old driver’s crash, saying it could fall under discrimination. Wilkes County Schools say they always will follow state and standards, but they may beef up certain criteria or background checks.

“We are always open to reviewing our current policies and procedures that we have in place, but we are always open to having additional conversations about ways we can improve or enhance that process,” said Mathis.

Both school systems urge parents that their students are safe riding the bus, and the Alamance-Burlington School System says it has not seen an increase in school bus crashes since the pandemic, despite the driver shortage. Farrow still works for them; however, York has been fired from Wilkes County Schools.

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