A school bus driver for contractor Educational Bus Transportation on Long Island has received a commendation from a local county lawmaker for actions he took to avoid a head-on collision during a recent field trip.
Nassau County Legislator Rose Marie Walker honored Titus Francis on Monday, after he pulled up to Lee Avenue Elementary School in Hicksville to deliver his students for their last day of school. She cited Francis for his “noteworthy achievement” and “exemplary service” in steering clear of an SUV that was driving in the wrong direction during the June 8 field trip.
“Your fast reflexes and skilled driving techniques saved the lives of children in your care, avoiding what would have been a serious accident,” said Walker, whose own grandchildren were passengers on the school bus at the time.
Parent Jason Martinoff was on the field trip and witnessed Francis’ defensive driving skills first hand. “Titus did well to keep us all safe,” Martinoff added. “I know people are always quick to complain when something is amiss. I feel that there should be equal praise for something like this.”
Francis told School Transportation News that he immediately applied the brakes when he saw the oncoming SUV and honked the school bus horn. This got the other driver’s attention, he added, and she crossed back over the center divider into her lane of traffic.
“I am always extra careful when driving. The children on the bus are my responsibility,” said Francis, who has driven school buses for eight years, the past six months with Educational Bus Transportation. “I have a young son and I feel the same way about these children. I’ve taken safety and training classes at Educational Bus and other bus companies. It’s very important for bus drivers to pay attention, learn, and always drive defensively. It makes all the difference.”
Tim Flood is executive VP of Educational Bus Transportation, a member organization of Spring Valley-based The Trans Group, that operates 1,300 vehicles in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Flood is also a past-president of the National School Transportation Association. He said Francis’ skill is indicative of school bus drivers throughout the company and nationwide.
“Every day, school bus drivers are entrusted with the safety of their passengers,” Flood added. “Too often they are unsung heroes, performing their jobs with unbelievable dedication. It is always appreciated when someone like Legislator Walker takes time from her busy schedule to recognize a school bus driver for his or her achievement and steadfast commitment to safety.”