They are among the first people on the roads each morning, heading out before some of their passengers even get out of bed.
Their shifts may begin early, but they are alert and cautious as they pick up children for school.
Dawson County’s school bus drivers gathered Monday morning at the bus barn on Shoal Creek Road to kick off National School Bus Safety Week.
Observed annually during the third week of October, the occasion encourages motorists to pay attention and obey traffic rules around school buses.
Local bus drivers are pleased with this year’s theme, “Avoid Harm, Obey the Stop Arm,” which focuses on when buses are loading and unloading.
“People need to realize the stop sign on a school bus means stop,” said Jeff Turner, a local school bus driver.
According to national statistics, the most dangerous time during the school day is when students are getting on and off buses.
“Eighty-five percent of student injuries occur at loading and unloading,” said Susan Ferguson, who oversees training and driver development for the school system.
Ferguson said each driver in the district takes the safety of children seriously and receives annual training.
“All of our drivers are required to take one or two safety classes and attend a state safety meeting each year,” she said.
In addition, each driver has attended a 12-hour training program and received re-certification within the last year.
“The safety of the children is in our hands,” Ferguson said.
School Superintendent Keith Porter commended the group for its work.
“My goal is excellence in everything we do, and you all follow that,” he said Monday.