School bus operations across the nation are working to spotlight school bus safety this week — in some cases with the help of law enforcement.
Oct. 19-23 marks National School Bus Safety Week this year. The annual event is marked by a variety of efforts to draw the public’s attention to safety issues.
For example, police departments in the area of Leander, Texas, are conducting a regional initiative this week called “Stop on Red. Kids Ahead,” the goal of which is to promote school bus safety through education and enforcement.
Police officers will focus on identifying and citing drivers who fail to stop for school buses with their red lights flashing and stop arms extended.
"We strictly enforce school bus safety throughout the school year, but we are taking the opportunity of National School Bus Safety Week to remind drivers of the potential life-threatening danger to our area children when drivers fail to stop for school buses loading and unloading," Leander Police Chief Greg Minton said.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is also cracking down on stop-arm violations this week. State troopers in many areas are riding on or following school buses to catch motorists who disregard the law. Troopers are also patrolling areas where school buses pick up and drop off students.
“DPS urges drivers to make the safety of our children a priority whenever they travel near school buses, and DPS will not tolerate those who break the law and put our children at risk,” DPS Director Steven McCraw said. “Remember, children are particularly vulnerable when entering or exiting a school bus.”
In 2014 and 2015, Texas Highway Patrol troopers have issued 852 tickets for passing a stopped school bus. More than 42,000 school buses transport about 1.5 million children in Texas each school day.
A similar enforcement effort for National School Bus Safety Week is underway in Ohio. State Highway Patrol troopers are following school buses on their daily routes and, in some cases, riding on buses to watch for stop-arm violations.
“Although drivers of all vehicles are required to stop for a school bus when it is loading or unloading passengers, children should not rely on them to do so,” said Colonel Paul Pride, superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. “Children exiting the bus should always stop and look both ways before crossing the street and remain alert to any sudden traffic changes.”
In Glen Cove, New York, the city and the police department are conducting a public education and enforcement program to remind children, parents and drivers about the importance of school bus safety. The week-long series of activities will include enhanced enforcement by the Glen Cove Police Department for school bus safety compliance on Glen Cove’s top school bus driving corridors.
“We have had a number of complaints about drivers ignoring the flashing lights and stop sign arm extension on school buses, and that poses a dangerous situation for our children when boarding and disembarking from their buses,” Glen Cove Police Chief William Whitton said. “So far this year, our police officers have issued a number of summonses to drivers for passing stopped school buses. That violation is punishable by fines ranging between $250 and $400 and up to 30 days in jail.”
Also, the Glen Cove City School District is distributing school bus safety flyers via students’ “virtual backpacks” this week, and in-school announcements are promoting school bus safety.