As a teen, Teresa Hartley had to take action after a school bus crash. Now as a transportation director, she’s working to ensure every student is on board with emergency preparedness.
TOPEKA, Kan. — As students head back to school this month, the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDOE) is informing the public about how to keep kids safe as they make their way to and from school buses.
“School buses remain the safest way to transport students to and from school, but keeping our kids safe when getting on and off the bus is everyone’s responsibility,” said Keith Dreiling, director of the KSDOE’s School Bus Safety Unit. “Parents must review safety tips with their kids, bus drivers must follow protocol, and the motoring public must stop for school buses displaying flashing red lights and stop arms.”
The KSDOE reminded drivers that yellow flashing lights on a school bus indicate that the bus is preparing to stop, and red flashing lights signify that vehicles must come to a complete stop on both sides of the street so children can cross safely to the bus.
In Kansas, 4,246 school bus drivers transported 227,778 students more than 69 million miles during the 2014-15 school year, Dreiling noted.
As is the case across the nation, stop-arm running remains a problem in Kansas. In April, 2,163 Kansas school bus drivers reported nearly 1,000 instances of motorists illegally passing their buses in a single day.
As part of its back-to-school message, the KSDOE encouraged parents to speak with their children about school bus safety, including the following tips:
• Stay alert. Don’t listen to music, text, or play games on a mobile device while walking to the bus stop.
• Follow traffic signals and laws. Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Never run into the street or cross between parked cars.
• Leave early. Be at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. Early arrival prevents children from running across a street to catch the bus as it pulls away from the stop.
• Stand back. When the bus approaches, stand at least five big steps away from the curb, and line up away from the street. Avoid the driver’s blind spot.
• Stand still. Wait until the bus stops completely, the door opens, and the driver says it is OK before entering the bus. Do the same for exiting the bus. Be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps don't get caught in handrails or doors.
• Never walk behind the bus. Children should walk where the driver can see them and they can see the driver. Walk at least 10 big steps in front of the bus.
• Watch for motorists. Even though motorists are required to stop when a bus is making pickups or drop-offs, make sure children look both ways before crossing the street.
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