HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - School bus accidents in South Mississippi have sent nearly a dozen students to the hospital in less than a week. Tuesday morning, two young women died as a result of a crash in Covington County. Officials say it's a priority to ensure children get to and from school safely every day.
Steven Dauenhauer has been hauling students for the Hancock County School District for the past four years. He credits hours and hours of training for preparing him to get behind the wheel of a school bus. But it's the others on the road who worry him most.
"Your mirrors are really your best friend. You have mirrors on the inside and on the outside to keep track of not only what's going on inside the bus, but everything around you," said Steven Dauenhauer.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 75-percent of the accidents involving school buses are caused by drivers behind the wheels of cars and trucks.
"It is scary sometimes watching other drivers drive around our buses," said Mike Ladner.
Mike Ladner is Director of Transportation for the Hancock County School District. He said the safety training his drivers get is the best way to prepare them for the unexpected.
Driver Dauenhauer said, "There are little tricks of the trade that we use. But at the same time we also have to maintain control of 40 or 50 students on the bus."
"When you're sitting up on a school bus, you can see the other drivers because they are all lower than you, and it's amazing to me as a driver and I still drive substitute routes. I don't have an exact number, but I feel like 60, 65 percent of the drivers coming at me have a phone in their hand and usually looking at the phone," explained Ladner.
Ladner said his drivers are watching out for careless drivers and they'd appreciate if those sharing the roadways keep an eye out for them. Ladner said all school bus drivers in Mississippi must be re-certified every two years and undergo yearly safety training courses.