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Rock Hill buses equipped with radios

ELIZABETH TOWNSHIP - When Rock Hill bus drivers have a bit of extra security as they travel their routes this year: two way radios that connect them to the bus garage.

Such two-way radio systems have been commonplace in other districts and Rock Hill drivers said they have asked for two-way radios in the past.

"They were installed over the summer. Some of the bus drivers said they needed them so we got them and had them installed in the 24 buses, including the substitute buses, in the fleet," acting superintendent Steve Lambert said.

Before now, bus drivers had no way of contacting school officials if the bus broke down or if they were in an accident.

Cell phone service in the rural parts of the county ranges from scarce to non-existent. Without two-way radios to summon help, drivers whose buses stopped running usually had to find the most reliable child on the bus and ask them to the nearest house to use the telephone and call for help, since bus drivers are forbidden from leaving children unattended on the bus.

"Then you'd worry, 'what if that kid were raped or kidnapped or run over', then you would be responsible for it," one bus driver said at a recent meeting.

The two-way radios will also come in handy in the winter time when inclement weather makes travel dangerous. Drivers can alert school officials to hazardous road conditions.