Back to School: Keeping children safe on the way to school

Local News

KNOXVILLE (WATE) — For the last few months, school zones have been quiet and buses have sat idle. However, preparations to keep you and your kids safe during the new school year have been ongoing.

“You might kid yourself and get a week break, but that’s about it,” said Gentry School Bus Lines President Bill Gentry. “There’s so much service to be done, seat repairs and just constant upkeep.”

Gentry oversees the operation and maintenance of 15 Knox County buses. A process that continues even when the kids are on break.

“Tires are a monthly thing. On the first of the month, we take the tread depth of the tires, check the emergency pressure, emergency doors and windows,” said Gentry. “What we do is a monthly routine.”

If you and your child walk to school, Knox County recently completed a walk to school prioritization study and that has led to pedestrian refuge islands. They were installed during the summer in some counties and busier roadways near school zones.

“The few streets that we have that are multi-lanes and high speeds, we’ve taken the initiative on to make the residential areas nearby safer,” said Knox County Engineering Jim Snowden.

The island acts as a safe area for you or your child in case you can’t make it all the way across. Flashers were added, as well, to alert motorists that you are crossing.

“These things flash very rapidly and very brightly so that cars approaching have an opportunity to see that and hopefully provide the pedestrian safer crossing movements,” said Snowden.

City crews are inspecting the areas school zone because for wear and tear. There are more than 140 of them. However, a new proposed program to soon be installed will make managing the school zone warning flashers a lot easier.

“Our technicians can actually sit at their computer in the shop and program the school flashers around town and also monitor them and determine when they’re working and when they’re not.” said traffic systems engineer Ernie Pierce.

Gentry School Bus Lines is taking applications for school bus drivers. To apply, call 865-522-2796.

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