Safety expert reacting to 5-year-old left on bus at Irondale school

Safety expert reacting to 5-year-old left on bus at Irondale school

IRONDALE, AL (WBRC) - We're continuing to follow the case of a 5-year-old left on a freezing school bus in Irondale. A school official confirms the driver did not thoroughly walk through the bus and check for students.

We spoke with safety experts about safety on board school buses.

When it comes to training school bus drivers, many school districts around the country call Jeff Cassell. He's a nationally renowned safety expert with the School Bus Safety Company who at one time led safety programs for more than 38,000 buses carrying millions of students to and from school every day.

In the Alabama school bus driver handbook, which every driver in the state gets when they sign up, it says very clearly drivers should "walk the aisle to be certain there are no students left on the bus."

Cassell says there are three main reasons why drivers should double and triple check for students.

"One that if it's really hot, they could be cooked to death. Two if it's really cold they could freeze to death. But the bigger risk is buses when they are parked. They are often parked well away from anywhere in a yard and the doors don't lock. That's a law. The kid could get off the bus and wander off down street, into the woods," Cassell said.

Cassel says new buses have some form of a child reminder warning system in them. The systems require drivers to go to the back of the bus and check for students before stepping off.

"Most vehicles have a reminder system where they have to flick a handle or push a button and if you don't do that then a loud buzzer goes off to say they haven't checked the bus. We tell them over and over, flicking the device or pressing the button is only a small part of your job. The 98-percent is looking for the children," Cassell added.

The case in Irondale is still under investigation. The school district tells us and the parents they plan on being very transparent during the process.

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