With National School Bus Safety Week kicking off on Monday, pupil transportation groups are promoting the successes of the industry and emphasizing a crucial safety message for motorists.
The theme of the week this year is “Avoid Harm, Obey the Stop Arm” — a call for motorists to keep students safe by stopping for school buses that are loading or unloading children.
The American School Bus Council (ASBC) stressed the need to educate parents about just how safe school buses are. A recent ASBC survey found that 49 percent of parents incorrectly believe that a car driven by an adult is the safest way to get students to and from school.
"Parents deserve to be informed that the yellow school bus has been found by the National Academy of Sciences and U.S. Department of Transportation to be the safest way to transport students," said William Tousley, president of the National Association for Pupil Transportation and an ASBC member. "And to further this safety record, we also need to remind drivers to obey the stop arm, which plays a critical role in protecting our students."
ASBC provides National School Bus Safety Week materials, including a safety quiz, coloring pages and a press release template, on its Website.
In New York, the state Senate for the fourth year in a row adopted a resolution designating School Bus Driver Appreciation Day, which will be next Friday. “A school bus driver’s job duties are as extensive as they are difficult,” said Sen. William Larkin, a sponsor of the resolution. “Safely transporting students to and from school each day and safeguarding other people’s children are tremendous responsibilities that deserve the utmost recognition.”
Maureen Moore, a New York school bus driver who has worked on getting the resolution passed, said she and her fellow drivers “feel so honored to have senators who appreciate the difficult job we perform every day.”
National Express Corp., the parent company of Durham School Services and Stock Transportation, issued a School Bus Safety Week press release iterating the “Avoid Harm, Obey the Stop Arm” theme and detailing steps for motorists to take:
• Always stop when you see flashing red lights or the stop arm extended on a school bus.
• Watch for children walking or crossing the street near a stopped school bus.
• Slow down when driving on neighborhood streets, near school bus stops and in school zones.
The company said that it also issued customized “School Bus Safety Week 2009” pins to its employees to acknowledge their commitment to safety, and special safety messages will be announced over the company radio system each day of the week.