Next week, pupil transportation outfits across the country will observe National School Bus Safety Week, with a focus on promoting proper procedures for the school bus danger zone.
This year's theme is "Stand Back From the Yellow and Black," reminding students to wait and walk outside of the 10-foot danger zone around the bus.
Some operations are also targeting stop-arm running during School Bus Safety Week, such as Marietta (Ga.) City Schools.
“Each year during School Bus Safety Week, we urge parents and community members to recognize the importance of school bus safety,” said Mark Lindstrom, the district's director of transportation. “Motorists are required to stop for stopped school buses that are displaying flashing red lights and a stop arm.”
This school year, Marietta City Schools is deploying stop-arm camera technology from American Traffic Solutions (ATS) to help address the problem of illegal school bus passing. The district announced in August that ATS would equip 10 of its buses with the technology, bringing the district's number of buses with stop-arm cameras to 12 out of a total fleet of 98 school buses.
"Eventually, we plan to have one-third of our bus fleet equipped with this technology to help reduce the number of stop-arm violations across the district,” Lindstrom said. “It is imperative that drivers are aware of the dangers of illegally passing school buses."
Falls Church (Va.) City Public Schools and the Falls Church Police Department are also partnering with ATS to address stop-arm running. Beginning next week, ATS' CrossingGuard solution will be activated on the district's school buses.
“Our main goal is to keep our students safe,” said Dr. Toni Jones, superintendent of Falls Church City Public Schools. “These cameras are the safety solution we need to reduce the number of these types of violations to protect our students.”
The district and ATS also released a PSA about their partnership with law enforcement, which can be viewed here.
In Harrison County, Ohio, the sheriff's office has been rolling out a stop-arm enforcement initiative ahead of School Bus Safety Week.
WTOV-TV reports that a sheriff's deputy is riding on Harrison Hills City School District buses at random each week.
"I think it's gonna help us in the long run to curb any violence that may come toward the bus, or any aggressive drivers out there," Harrison County Sheriff Joe Myers told the news outlet.
In addition to reminding the public of proper procedures around the bus, National School Bus Safety Week serves to promote the industry's safety record.
“School buses are, by far, the safest way for kids of all ages to get to and from school,” said Cherie Sage of Safe Kids Kansas. “Students are about 50 times more likely to arrive at school alive if they take the bus than if they drive themselves or ride with friends [and] more than 20 times safer than if they ride with a parent or other adult.”
And school bus contractors First Student and Durham School Services are raising awareness for National School Bus Safety Week, reminding parents, students and motorists of the importance of being alert around school buses.
“Everyone in the community plays a crucial role in ensuring students travel to and from school safely each day,” said Gary Catapano, senior vice president of safety for First Student. “Our drivers take tremendous care when transporting students, but students and motorists must also remain alert and avoid distractions to ensure school transportation is as safe as possible.”
First Student encourages students to, among other precautions, wait for the bus to stop completely before boarding or disembarking and wait for the bus driver's signal before crossing the street in front of the bus.
Michele McDermott, senior vice president of safety and human resources for Durham, emphasized the importance of school bus safety education.
"School buses are one of the safest ways for children to get to school," McDermott said. "Most student injuries actually happen outside of the school bus. Parents should remind children to always stand back from the bus, only cross in front of the bus crossing gate and be alert around school buses. That means don't text, talk on cell phones or listen to MP3 players."