The New Hanover County school bus driver responsible for yesterday's accident along Kerr Avenue has been suspended with pay. The school district says the 80-year-old driver met all state requirements and was qualified for the job.
Wilmington Police charged Otis Hames with failure to yield the right of way yesterday, but school officials say prior to the accident Hames had a clean driving record and all of the qualifications for the job.
Ten students from Noble Middle School were sent to the hospital as a precautionary measure after yesterday's school bus accident. Many parents were concerned about the age of the bus driver, but New Hanover County school administrators say age cannot play a role in hiring, and the 80-year-old Hames was recertified by the state in 2005.
"Then they're qualified to drive a school bus," Assistant Schools Superintendent Bill Hance said. "Whether they're 20, whether they're 30, whatever their age happens to be, they have to meet those qualifications. We cannot discriminate based on age."
Hance said regardless of age every bus driver must pass vision, hearing and medical tests to receive their certification.
Yesterday's accident is under investigation. According to Highway Patrol, there is no maximum driving age, but elderly drivers are encouraged to leave more time to travel, give plenty of distance between cars, and drive defensively due to a slower reaction time and in the case of a bus, larger vehicles take more time to stop and start.