Cameras, more independent contract bus drivers on road this school year in Hamilton Co.

There are 250 bus drivers in Hamilton County this school year. (Image: WTVC)

It's been more than seven months since six children died in a bus crash in Hamilton County.

Thursday, those kids classmates will head back to school and many new bus drivers will be on the road and ready to start a new year.

This year, there will be more independent bus drivers.

The Woodmore bus crash sparked local and national conversations about safety on buses.

People in this community hoping nothing like that ever happens again.

"You just have to be cautious," said Beth Zarzour.

Zarzour's a parent and lives in Chattanooga. As a child, she attended Woodmore Elementary.

"Things have changed a lot," she said.

Zarzour believes parents should know who's driving their kids bus.

"I think it's very important to kind of know what's going on, a little something about their background and kind of have a relationship with that person who's carrying your child to and from school," Zarzour added.

There are 250 bus drivers in Hamilton County this year.

A spokesperson says 181 of those will be Durham drivers. 69 of them will be independent contract drivers. In total, 11 of those drivers are brand new and will be picking up children for the first time Thursday morning.

"We have to know something about who's carrying for our children and what's going on during the day," Zarzour added.

New this school year, all of the Durham and independently owned buses will have cameras on the inside.

The daily operating pay for contract drivers will also increase by three percent.

These changes came after months of discussion. It's a push Zarzour says is of utmost importance.

"I don't think we need to live in fear all the time but you have to be aware," she said.

The driver involved in that fatal bus crash, Johnthony Walker, won't appear in court again until the end of the month.

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