CINCINNATI — Despite their size and bright color, school buses are often overlooked by other motorists, resulting in accidents and injuries to drivers and passengers. To encourage awareness and safe driving, First Student - the largest provider of student transportation in North America - joins the National Student Transportation Association (NSTA), the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) and the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) to recognize School Bus Safety Week October 22 – 26.
Passing a stopped school bus is illegal in all 50 states. However, a one-day study during the 2011-2012 school year resulted in nearly 100,000 school bus drivers reporting to NASDPTS that 88,025 vehicles illegally passed their buses, despite stop arm activation.
"Riding the school bus is 13 times safer than traveling in a passenger vehicle, and we urge motorists to avoid distractions and remain alert while sharing the road with school buses," said Gary Catapano, senior vice president, First Student Safety. "More than 26 million students ride the school bus each day. Together, we can prevent injuries and save lives."
School buses use yellow flashing lights to alert motorists that they are preparing to stop to load or unload children. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm indicate that the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off the bus. By law, when the red flashing lights and extended stop sign arm are used, motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving.
All states require that traffic in both directions stop on undivided roadways when students are entering or exiting a school bus. While state laws vary on what is required on a divided roadway, in all cases, traffic behind the school bus (traveling in the same direction) must stop.
School Bus Safety Week started in the late 1970's as a joint effort between NAPT, NSTA and NASDPTS. More information regarding school bus and student safety can be found at www.nsc.org/back2school or www.schoolbusfacts.com.