Last week, a school bus driver in Waynesville was arrested on suspicion of driving drunk while she had students onboard. According to WLOS ABC News Channel 13, the bus driver, 46-year-old Angell Kirkpatrick Benson, was arrested on Wednesday afternoon. Initial reports indicate that her Breathalyzer test showed she had more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in her system. She was reportedly swerving on the Smoky Mountain Expressway at about 3:30 p.m. Her school bus crossed the centerline at least twice, and nearly went off of the roadway, before a pursuing officer was able to pull her over. Benson was not able to perform field sobriety tests satisfactorily, and she was arrested.
The recent fatal school bus crash in Chattanooga has school districts across the nation assessing the safety of their own school buses, drivers and school transportation programs. WLOS ABC News Channel 13 recently reported on some efforts going on in Canton. In North Carolina, school buses have to be checked by a licensed inspector every 30 days. Additionally, school buses in North Carolina are not to exceed speeds of 45 miles per hour. Some districts are adding cameras on the inside and outside of buses to help improve accountability in the event of a wreck or other potentially injury-causing incident. Although these measures certainly help to improve school bus safety, taking the bus to and from school isn't totally without risk.
With the new school year starting, Buncombe County officials are calling on parents, caregivers, motorists and students to make safety a top priority around bus stops. While school buses are designed and built to transport children to and from school safely, they're not completely without risk, and there are some important concerns to discuss with children and drivers to improve overall bus stop safety this year. WLOS ABC News Channel 13 recently reported on the Buncombe County Sheriff's Office's safety message to drivers around Asheville. They're reminding drivers in Buncombe County to exercise caution wherever children might be present, and especially around bus stops.