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Bus safety important in Mississippi, Oxford

There have been 765 school bus accidents with vehicles and 73 accidents with other objects, such as trees or light poles, in the state of Mississippi since 2006.
This has some people wondering how safe primary- and college-aged students are on buses in Oxford.
In 2009, there were four school bus crashes in Lafayette County, one in 2010 and none in 2011, according to Mississippi Highway Patrol. Oxford University Transit (OUT) superintendent Ron Biggs said that since starting the service, there have only been minor accidents.
“OUT began in October of 2008 (and) I am glad to say we have not had any major accidents in our three and a half years of service,” Biggs said. “We have had 10 minor scrapes. I feel this is good for the number of hours we are on the road.”
Oxford school buses are inspected daily by the bus driver and all the buses are on a scheduled preventive maintenance program. Like all yellow school buses in the United States, those in Oxford are considered to be 172 times safer than a family automobile, eight times safer than passenger trains or scheduled airlines and four times safer than transit buses or intercity buses, according to Sonny Brownlee, Oxford School District director of school services.
“School bus drivers are required to pass random drug and alcohol testing each month,” Brownlee said. “A school bus driver’s background is checked on the Child Abuse Registry. They must have a clean driving record, both professionally and personally.”
School buses are equipped with video cameras to promote a safe environment and bus driver teacher assistants are placed on buses at random. Also, new school buses and bus stop signs have LED (light emitting diode) strobe lighting in the flashing lights, which are brighter and more noticeable than the conventional lighting.
A school bus driver should have a satisfactory driving and employment record, be able to pass all required training, must possess or obtain a Class B Commercial Driver’s License and have no clinical diagnoses that could threaten the safety of the students.
Safety measures differ for the Oxford University Transit buses.
“Every driver gets 80 hours of training before running a bus,” Biggs said. “Our main policy is to choose safe drivers.”
Students and local residents feel comfortable riding Oxford University Transit.
“I trust drivers’ skills and safety measures in Oxford University Transit buses,” said resident Aneriona Howard.