More than 6,000 school buses transporting more than 250,000 students daily will next week return to Arkansas roads. “We want to remind motorists to be especially attentive whenever they are near a school bus. We must all work together to keep Arkansas’ students safe,” state Department of Education commissioner Tony Wood said in a press release.
Cabot statistics from the 2013-14 school year are that more than 5,000 students traveled to and from school on buses following 91 routes traveling an average of 40 miles daily.
Remember, too, that penalties and punishment for illegally passing a stopped school bus were dramatically increased by Arkansas Act 2128 of 2005. The law is also known as Isaac’s Law in memory of Isaac Brian, a Bryant School District elementary student who was struck and killed when a driver illegally passed his school bus while students were unloading.
Under Arkansas law, all drivers must stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped and red warning lights on the bus are activated, regardless of where the vehicle may be in relation to the bus, whether in the same lane of traffic, opposing lane or at an intersection, traffic must come to a complete stop until the school bus turns off the warning lights and begins to move.
Drivers are not required to stop if the school bus is approaching along an opposite lane of travel separated by a median twenty feet or more in width.
The campaign reinforcing school bus safety will continue through Aug. 29.
Some school-bus etiquette from Cabot schools:
— Have children put all school items in a backpack or school bag to keep from dropping items along the way; children should wear bright, contrasting colors easily seen by drivers; leave home with enough time to walk to the bus stop – do not run.
— Accompany young children to the bus stop - have older children walk in groups; walk on sidewalks whenever possible - walk single file facing traffic staying as close to the edge of the road as possible; when crossing streets, cross at corners, look left, right and then left again before crossing, do the same at driveways and alleys.
— Do not play running games or push and shove at the bus stop; wait at least 10 feet (five giant steps) from the road to ensure being out of the way of traffic.
— Tell the driver if something is dropped when getting on or off a bus, do not try to pick it up unless the driver says to pick it up – this is to avoid being hurt if the driver pulls away from the stop thinking all children have gotten on the bus.
— Teach children talking should be done quietly, to be courteous to the driver and to follow the driver´s instructions.
— Children should stay seated during the entire bus ride and keep the aisles clear.
— Remind children to look to the right before stepping off a bus at school for possible moving vehicles.
— Teach children to tuck in loose drawstrings and other objects that may catch the handrail or door of the bus.
Follow the school´s procedures if a child needs to get off at other than the assigned stop.
If meeting a child after school, wait on the side the child will getting off, do not wait across the street - children can be excited at seeing you and forget safety rules.
B.U.S. Awareness materials, which include a sample news release, sample letter and safety tips for parents, are available on ADE’s website: http://www.arkansased.org/divisions/communications/pressroom.