Berks school bus drivers gear up for start of new year

'School buses carry our most precious cargo'

EXETER TWP., Pa. - As the summer break winds down, school bus drivers in Berks County are gearing up for a new school year.

"All the buses have to go through a rigorous cleaning, washing, waxing, and also state inspection by the state police," said Benjamin Bernhart, assistant transportation supervisor for the Exeter Township School District.

Bernhart said the work begins as soon as the school year's in the rearview mirror.

"We start preparing for the next school year the day after school ends," he said.

Those preparations include bus maintenance and assigning routes.

"All of our drivers do run their route before school starts," Bernhart said.

There's nothing like taking those first few steps onto the bus on that first day of school, and as excited as the students get, the drivers said they get those first-day jitters, too.

"They're excited, just like an elementary student or kid is excited to go back to school," Bernhart said.

But with a new school year comes the same old safety concerns on the roads.

"For the most part, it's the cell phone distraction that keeps them from obeying school bus laws and regulations the most," Bernhart said.

Bernhart is reminding drivers to be patient and to stay alert for everyone's sake.

"School buses carry our most precious cargo," he said.

PennDOT is also reminding drivers to stop 10 feet behind a school bus or as they approach a bus when the stop arm is out. That is, unless there's a concrete barrier separating the driver's lane from the bus.

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