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Student safety 'priority number one' for school bus drivers

Student safety 'priority number one' for school bus drivers
Student safety 'priority number one' for school bus drivers 02:16

MIAMI - Broward school bus drivers are behind the wheel again, getting ready for Tuesday when the new school year begins. 

Thomas Denis is giving his bus the once over before he gets going on a practice run. 

"My flashers, they are on, they are very important when I'm doing a stop. They can prevent an accident and also to protect my students for safety reasons," Denis said.

Student safety is priority number one for Denis, especially knowing he's driving the girls and boys who will one day be in charge. 

"I have the opportunity to work in my community and I have the opportunity to work for the future of this community. Because education, I know, is key," he said. 

Ruby Thomas has been a bus attendant for nearly 30 years. "I'm very excited. I'm happy to be back at work. I miss everybody or whatever and I'm looking forward to a great year," she said.

She helps special needs kids on the bus. "We are the first ones that they see before they get to the school. You have to make the kids feel safe, you have to make the parents feel safe. You gotta watch over the kids," Thomas said. 

For the next few days, buses will be on the road as drivers go through dry runs.  

They've been hitting every bus stop, driving each route to make sure they're ready for the 56,000 students who will be on board Tuesday. 

Executive Director Rolando Alvarez says despite previous shortages, they're ready.  

"We have currently, right now, 796 drivers ready for Tuesday, we have 794 routes ready for Tuesday.  So, we do have enough trained professional bus operators for Tuesday," Alvarez said. He's still looking to hire 50 more drivers. 

Police tell us this is a good time for commuters to prepare for more traffic on the roads and brush up on what to do when you approach a school bus.  

"We have kind of a zero tolerance for going around buses," said Fort Lauderdale Police Sgt. Dean Schoen. If you go around a bus when the red is on, it's a $270 fine. If you go to the right of a bus you have a mandatory court appearance and the judge gets to determine the fine. It could be up to $1,000. 

If you're still trying to get your child signed up for bus service or you have a problem or concern regarding transportation for the upcoming school year you can attend open houses on Saturday and Sunday to address those concerns. Click here for more information. 

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