Marshall County works to upgrade school bus fleet with additional safety features

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. -- When crews are finished each route bus in the Marshall County Schools system fleet will be equipped with additional safety features.

Several buses in the Marshall County Schools system fleet are getting a new addition aimed to keep kids safe. “We have 12 that did not have the safety arm,” explained Superintendent Cindy Wigley.

Last year the system bought 27 brand new buses equipped with high-quality cameras and safety arms on the front of the buses. Before that buy, Marshall County Schools had one of the oldest bus fleets in the state. Some of the buses date back to the year 1999.

Those older buses are equipped with cameras, but 12 of those route buses don’t have this safety arm. School officials say the state made that feature a requirement for new buses in the early 2000s. Some of the county’s fleet predates that and they were grandfathered in.

Now the system is at a point where they’re able to put the safety feature on those older buses.

“We purchased new buses with the amount of funds that our budget would allow. Then the remaining buses that did not have the safety arms we made sure we were able to get those in place in well," explained Wigley.

The money just isn’t there to buy more new buses so the system decided to add the feature to the old ones to make them equal safety-wise with the newer fleet.

“The safety arm on the bus actually creates a barrier so that the students will actually have to walk around the safety arm," said Wigley. It gets the students out of the driver’s blind spot.

Crews are installing the arm themselves to cut down on costs and all 80 route buses will be equipped with this feature.