Careless drivers seen speeding past school buses in Willard

WILLARD, Mo. It's not the second week of school for many kids around the Ozarks.

However, some drivers aren't used to it. They're not stopping for school buses or speeding in school zones.

This problem is especially concerning in Willard because a lot of the bus routes are on rural or highway roads.

Hillary Tranbarger lives on State Highway AB. She wants to stop a deadly accident before it happens.

"We don't let any kids get on and off the bus without parents being out here," she said.

She and other parents living along her street worry about the safety of their kids.

"As a parent you definitely think the worst," she said.

In just the first week of school, Tranbarger told us that she's noticed some tense moments.

"We'll see people fail to stop, oncoming traffic. We do see cars, when the bus comes to a stop, go around as well," she explained.

More than 3,000 kids ride the bus to school in Willard. Many of them live on highly traveled rural roads and state routes.

District transportation officials work to accommodate the needs of students in the safest way possible.

Tranbarger said, "There's not a designated bus stop along the highways. Fortunately the bus does come up right to our homes. You'll see parents lined up with their kids because they don't want their kids standing this close out here with the traffic. As a parent you get reminders to advise your kid about bus safety on the bus and paying attention while on the bus but there's not a lot of reminders for drivers that school's back in session."

"We start our flashing lights way before our stop," said Willard Schools Assistant Superintendent of Operations, Derrick Hutsell.

The district's protocol includes drivers using yellow flashers to let motorists know buses are slowing down, red flashers and signs to let them know to stop.

"The bus drivers also have a way of communicating with the students. They usually give a thumbs up to make sure that those students are safe to travel and come across the roads," explained Hutsell.

Bus drivers stop 500 feet away from where they pick up and drop off kids as an added measure of safety. That's more than double what the state requires.

"We do a really good job of transporting kids every day and getting them home safely to and from school. We want that to continue throughout the year," said Hutsell.

Tranbarger said, "I really don't want to have to worry about other people's negligent driving as a concern just to get to school."

Willard Police have increased their patrols during the times when school buses are on the roads.

The department and school officials are asking anyone who sees a vehicle driving carelessly around the buses to get a license plate number and report it.