School bus safety measures increasing in Elizabethton and Carter County


CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) School administrators are issuing an urgent call to drivers to obey the rules in school zones and around school buses.

Schools are in session across the area. In places like Elizabethton, police and school administrators said they are seeing too much of this.

Video recorded last year shows a car going around a stopped bus.

This led the Elizabethton City School System to add cameras to buses to catch dangerous drivers in the act.

We also learned this has led school officials to actually re-route buses around congested areas where frequent offenders are behind the wheel.

“At the beginning of the year, things are not as fluid as we’d like for them to be,” Director of Transportation for Elizabethton City Schools, John Hutchins said.

Changing bus routes, cop ride alongs and traffic tickets are all measures that the Elizabethton Public Schools and Carter County Sheriff’s Office have put in place to help keep students safe.

“It’s especially a problem here, so much to the point that we have to do away with any stop along Elk Avenue and Broad Street because those are five lane roads,” Hutchins said. “We have issues in several places. Several places that you wouldn’t think that there would be any issues, but a lot of it has something to do with people being distracted.”

Hutchins said, “I know that one bus in a week’s time had six. That was the most that we had that’s six in a week.”

“You gotta remember that children are somebody that are very unpredictable. Very. You could take a six-year-old child that gets off the school bus and could chase a butterfly right out of the path of a car,” Carter County Sheriff’s Office Dexter Lunceford said.

Sheriff Lunceford said violators are looking at $250 worth of fines.

“It’s big, it’s yellow, it’s got flashing lights and a stop sign. I don’t know why you wouldn’t stop either but people do. 08

The sheriff said not knowing the law is not an excuse.

He said, “The young lady ran the stop sign on the school bus. I asked her, did you not see that school bus? She said yes, well why didn’t you stop? Well, I don’t know.”

As driver get into the routine of back to school, Sheriff Lunceford hopes people will keep their heads on a swivel.

“Be very, very aware of your situations and look even when the bus pulls out. You best sit there for just a couple of seconds to make sure that you’re not missing something,” Sheriff Lunceford said. “Look even when the bus pulls out. You best sit there for just a couple of seconds to make sure that you’re not missing something.”

There are rules drivers must follow when it comes to school buses.

In Tennessee and Virginia you may not pass a school bus when its lights are flashing, or an arm on the bus is extended, alerting drivers to stop.

You must remain stopped until all people are clear of the road and the bus is in motion.

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