Ex-driver speaks about challenges behind wheel of bus

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- School buses are the safest form of transportation when it comes to student deaths, but a former school bus driver wants parents to know what really goes on during the ride.

Diana Reed drove school buses for Livingston ISD for four years.

"They would climb over the seats in front of them, to pick on the kids in front of them, pull their hair," Reed said, "and you're constantly looking in that back mirror going, so-and-so sit down, I can't see, or sit down, you're gonna fall."

Reed said she did her best to keep an eye on the 74 students behind her while focusing on the road ahead, but she had several close calls.

She said one time a small child walked down the aisle while she was driving and ended up in the stairwell of the bus.

"I'm driving, and I'm like, 'Oh my God,' and I grabbed him by his backpack and pulled him back," Reed said, "He could have busted his head open."

Reed thinks seat belts are a good idea, but she said it is difficult to make children wear them.

During a Houston ISD press conference Tuesday, Transportation Manager Nathan Graf said seat belts are not mandatory within HISD.

"It's optional because it's difficult for the driver to enforce," Graf said.

Graf did not say whether or not the district will reconsider that policy. About half of HISD's fleet of 1,000 buses are equipped with seat belts.

Reed would like to see teacher's aides ride on buses to keep children seated and buckled up if seat belts are available.

"You're absolutely helpless on that bus while you're driving and there's no one to supervise," Reed said.

She also advises parents to make sure their children have something to keep them busy during the ride to minimize driver distractions.

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