HOUSTON (KTRK) --Thousands of school buses will hit the streets of Houston on the first day of school, but bus driver training begins long before that.
"It truly is a team effort, and it takes us all summer long to get us ready for that first day of school," said Nathan Graf, Transportation General Manager at Houston Independent School District.
Each school day HISD rolls out 1,100 buses covering 80,000 miles to pick up and drop off 35,000 children.
In addition, the district trains hundreds of bus drivers, like Vivian Ivory. Ivory is a veteran of the bus routes who knows she is carrying precious cargo.
"You wanna take care of those babies, those are our babies," said Ivory.
Not only must bus drivers navigate the obstacles of Houston's streets, they must also act as a disciplinarian and a supervisor.
"It's almost like a bus driver is a teacher in a classroom, the only difference is all of the kids are behind them and not in front of them," Graf told us.
Drivers must pass ten hours of classroom and hands-on training, then ten hours of behind the wheel training, including driving his or her specific route before the first day of school. Drivers also go through first aid & CPR training, evacuation training, terrorism drills, and how to prevent violence on the school bus.
"Anything that's going to help keep those kids safe on the bus, they go through it," says Graf.
Drivers must also pass an FBI background check, a drug and alcohol screening, a physical, and they have to obtain their commercial drivers license.
It's a lot of work to pass the most important assignment -- keeping your children safe when they are on the road.