LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — With the new school year starting, school transportation officials in Arkansas are alerting motorists with a timely message: “Flashing Red. Kids Ahead."
That’s the name of the fifth annual school bus safety campaign conducted by the Arkansas Department of Education and the Arkansas Association of Pupil Transportation.
The three-week campaign, which kicked off on Aug. 7 and concludes Aug. 25, is reminding motorists of the need to stop for school buses with their red lights flashing and stop arms extended.
In April 2016, nearly 2,500 school bus drivers in Arkansas participated in a one-day count of stop-arm running. They reported a total of 706 vehicles illegally passing their buses, including 29 on the right side, where passengers board and exit.
In Arkansas, fines for stop-arm violations range from $250 to $1,000. Penalties can also include up to 90 days in jail, community service of up to 400 hours, and license suspension ranging from 21 days to one year.
This school year, more than 7,000 school buses will transport about 350,000 Arkansas students to and from school and school-related activities.
“As a former school bus driver and district superintendent, I know firsthand the importance of school bus safety,” said Jerry Owens, senior transportation manager at the Arkansas Division of Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation. “School bus safety isn’t just the responsibility of bus drivers; every motorist plays a critical role in ensuring all students arrive to and from school safely.”
The “Flashing Red. Kids Ahead” campaign provides school bus safety tips, graphics, flyers, videos, and other resources, which are available here. The Arkansas Department of Education has also encouraged students and schools to take part in the campaign by sharing school bus safety-related videos and photos on social media, using the hashtag #2017FlashingRed.
In the video below, Owens talks safety with Kimberly Friedman, director of communications for the Arkansas Department of Education.