Safety devices for all Richmond school buses

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – It's called a child reminder system. Buses will soon have alarms that force the driver to check the back of the bus. The city is adding the device to about 180 buses at a cost of $30,000.

The child reminder system will soon be on all Richmond city school buses. It's a measure, that was not in place last week, when little 4-year-old Nyheim Butler was accidentally left on a school bus for over an hour. He has autism and severe asthma. His driver and bus monitor both face a felony charge. This incident pushed city school officials to add the safety device to the entire fleet.

It works like this- when the bus is turned off, an alarm will eventually go off. The only way to stop this alarm from going off is to physically walk to the back of the bus and hit the button.

"It is a device that requires the driver to get up and walk to the rear of the bus," said Kim Gray.

School Board Member Kim Gray began asking about the safety alert feature for city school buses more than a year ago.

"It increases the chances if a child is on the back of a bus asleep that they'll see them. And get them off the bus," Gray said.

She's had two of her children accidentally left on daycare buses. She says these incidents are traumatic for the children.

"My older child felt as if nobody remembered her or that she wasn't important enough for someone to realize she was missing," said Gray.

In some states this safety measure for buses is mandatory, but not in Virginia. 83 of Henrico County's 400 buses have it. School leaders say they will add more as older buses are replaced.

In Chesterfield County, all of the school buses in use have the alert. City School Superintendent Yvonne Brandon will announce more details on her plans at a press conference Wednesday. 

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