Yellow is the color most associated with school buses, but the focus of this year’s National School Bus Safety Week is red.
Pupil transportation and law enforcement officials across the nation are taking the opportunity to remind motorists about the need to stop for school buses that have their red lights flashing and stop arms extended.
In Ohio, state troopers are following or riding on school buses this week to crack down on drivers who don’t “Stop on Red.” According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, from 2014 to 2016, 4,160 drivers in the state were convicted of failing to stop for a stopped school bus.
“School buses remain the safest mode of transportation for students to and from school,” said Col. Paul Pride, superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. “With the cooperation of motorists, parents, and children and public awareness we can make this a safe school year throughout Ohio.”
Law enforcement in Texas is also targeting stop-arm running during National School Bus Safety Week. State troopers are patrolling areas where school buses pick up and drop off students, watching for illegal passing. In 2016 and in 2017 thus far, the Texas Highway Patrol has issued 1,100 citations and 573 warnings for passing a stopped school bus.
"Motorists should always be alert and practice safe driving habits when traveling near school buses or anywhere school children gather, including bus stops," said Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). "Texas parents can rest assured that DPS will not tolerate those who recklessly endanger children by ignoring the law."
In Georgia, the transportation department at Liberty County School System is posting safety tips and statistics on its Facebook page. The district’s administration provided breakfast for the school bus drivers on Monday morning, and Interim Superintendent Dr. Franklin Perry greeted students and rode on a school bus:
“National School Bus Safety Week is a great chance to remind motorists to follow traffic laws around school buses,” Perry said. “Our children are most exposed during loading or unloading their school bus. This is why drivers are required to stop.”
In New York, pupil transportation officials are raising awareness about school bus stop-arm safety and pushing for tougher penalties for violators. A monthly survey by the New York Association for Pupil Transportation has on multiple occasions estimated that more than 40,000 violations occurred statewide in one day.
“It is clear that current penalties are not enough to act as a deterrent,” said Mike Martucci, president of the New York School Bus Contractors Association. “We strongly support the passage of complementary bills, sponsored by New York state senators Rich Funke and John Bonacic, to increase penalties on drivers who continue to break the law and put our children in danger.”
In Wisconsin, Go Riteway Transportation Group is celebrating National School Bus Safety Week with activities including employee breakfast and lunch events, safety bingo, and daily safety announcements.
National School Bus Safety Week is also being recognized in Canada. For example, the Ontario School Bus Association (OSBA) is promoting the “#Stop on Red” theme, which the association said “helps remind everyone of the importance for all motorists to be aware of their surroundings, particularly near stopped school buses with their red overhead lights flashing and stop arm extended.”
OSBA also noted that Wednesday of this week will be School Bus Driver Appreciation Day.
“Please show your thanks to professional school bus drivers everywhere, with a simple wave, a thank you, or maybe even a cup of coffee,” the association said. “They embrace a tremendous responsibility to ensure kids remain protected and out of harm's way each and every day.”