Most people think the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) just handles the screenings at airports. But the TSA is also involved in making sure school buses are safe.

That’s done with tests by their Surface Transportation Inspectors, who check to see if school bus drivers are doing safety inspections before starting their routes. At the end of each day, drivers are required to check the entire bus to see if anything has been left behind or looks suspicious. Then they’re supposed to check the bus the next morning to make sure no threat has appeared overnight.

So, Escambia County Schools Transportation Supervisor Forrest Jones hid “threats” on school buses shortly before drivers arrived for their morning runs. TSA Transportation Security Inspector Tim Dees was on hand to see how many drivers found the planted simulated threats during their daily check.

One by one, drivers pulled up and informed the two men what they had found on the bus. By the time the fleet had left for the morning, all 10 drivers passed the test, giving Escambia County Schools a perfect score.

Jones was very proud that his drivers had passed the test with flying colors.

“We work hard to make sure drivers realize there are potential dangers out there," said Jones. "We’re blessed. We have really good drivers and do a really good job. They care about the kids and in the end, that’s what has them looking for any threats to be sure the children are safe.”

Dees was impressed by the results of the test.

“This shows that this county is doing what they’re supposed to be doing in educating their drivers on the importance and thoroughness of doing pre-trip inspections," Dees said. "As for the perfect score that the bus drivers achieved, it’s very encouraging and comforting to see a 100% score.”

So, school bus drivers are doing more than just transporting children, as their vigilance is adding to their safety. Escambia County parents should feel secure knowing the drivers take their jobs seriously and consider the safety of children of paramount importance.

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