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Oct 22, 2014, 08:32 AM

“At My Stop, You Stop!” - 2014 National School Bus Safety Week

Did you know riding a school bus is one of the safest forms of transportation on the road today?  In fact, according to the American School Bus Council in collaboration with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, students are fifty times more likely to arrive at school safe than if driven to school by themselves or a friend.  Because school buses must meet more Federal safety guidelines than any other vehicle on the road, a bus’s size, structure and safety technologies are built to provide students with the best protection.  

That’s why, every year, the National Association for Pupil Transportation organizes a national event designed to increase the awareness of bus safety.  This year, First Student and school districts will celebrate National School Bus Safety Week throughout the week of October 20th.  The idea of a school bus safety week began in 1966 and it’s grown to encompass thousands of districts across forty U.S. states.  Even the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved a resolution in 2006 recognizing the goals and ideals of School Bus Safety Week.

First Student customers also participate in both state and local events covering: sessions teaching safe riding, boarding, and departing techniques; emergency evacuation drills; events for parents and students to view their bus and/or facility; “thank you” note drives; essay contests and a poster contest.  Our drivers sometimes organize and run these events.  While they all take place over a five day period, National School Bus Safety Week centers on the National Poster Contest.  This year’s contest topic becomes the theme for next year’s program.  In 2013, students across the country submitted pictures focused on this year’s theme of “At my Stop, you Stop!” 

The theme serves as a reminder to all of us to be careful, slow down while around school buses and to always heed the school bus stop-arm.  It is illegal in every state to pass a school bus that has stopped to load or unload students.  While it seems redundant to remind drivers of safety tips, oftentimes we can become distracted by family issues, the radio, other passengers or even our daydreams - so we want to emphasize to drivers, students and pedestrians what it means to be safe near school zones or buses.

Key Safe Driving Tips:

  • In a school zone with warning flashers, drivers MUST yield to all pedestrians within a crosswalk or at an intersection.
  • Always stop when a school crossing guard signals.
  • Never stop your car in a crosswalk pathway.It can cause students to go outside the safe area to avoid your car.
  • It’s illegal to pass a school bus on the right in every case.
  • Yellow flashing lights mean a bus is preparing to stop and unload children; therefore, all motorists should slow down.
  • Red flashing lights and the extended stop sign signals that the bus is stopped and students are boarding or departing.All motorists must stop.
  • Statistics show children are more prone to being hit within ten feet of a school bus.All other vehicles should remain far enough away for children to enter and exit the bus and to walk in crosswalks safely.
  • Always remain vigilant.Children become unpredictable when they are comfortable with their surroundings - they can be more likely to ignore hazards or to take risks.
  • As you approach a school bus, keep your eyes moving, continuously watching.Sometimes drivers see the children boarding and departing on sidewalks but can lose sight of the children or hazards directly in front of their car.

Distractions happen so easily when we drive, but that’s why students, districts and communities benefit each year from National School Bus Safety Week, so remind yourself: “At my Stop, you Stop!”  Students may be learning about the safe ways to board a bus October 20-24, 2014 — but we all can benefit to remember our own driving behavior around buses and school zones.

If you’d like more information regarding events sponsored by your district, contact your local school administrators.  And to learn more about school bus safety, head over to First Student’s YouTube channel, or visit the “School Bus Facts” website developed by the American School Bus Council.