ORIENTAL, Pamlico County - Did you know the first school bus in our state drove children to school right here in Eastern North Carolina 100 years ago?
The sight of a row of buses would have been unimaginable 100 years ago. But in Pamlico County, they pride themselves on being the very first place where these school buses were put on the road in our state.
"When we check the traffic and no one's coming, we give them a thumbs up and let them know they still have to look both ways before crossing," said Teresa Harris, bus driver for nine years for Pamlico County Schools.
"I guess you just don't really think about it 100 years ago, there being school buses on the road. You think about kids walking to school, maybe riding their bicycles but not on school buses."
On Sept. 5, 1917, a man named Zeb Brinson started taking students to and from school in a 30-passenger truck in the former Oriental Consolidated School District.
"It's exciting to know that back 100 years ago, Pamlico County was innovative by having the very first school bus and we still hope to stay on the cutting edge of what's going on," said Lisa Jackson, Superintendent of Pamlico County Schools.
The 1931 Chevrolet bus was an improvement from Oriental's 1917 option. Today's 2018 Thomas 72-passenger model, with three-point seat belts is the state's most up-to-date model.
"Our lights are on, flashers on and then we go out and walk around the bus to make sure all the lights are working and the stopping arm is out the way it's supposed to be," Harris said.
"You are 70 times safer in a school bus than you are being driven to school," said Mike Ezzell, director of the Governor's Highway Safety Program. "School buses not only have the technology but the design to be a very safe mode of transportation provided the rest of us do our part."
Gov. Roy Cooper has made school bus safety a priority and September has been declared School Bus Safety Awareness Month.