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Summer break is over for thousands of Kentucky students as they headed back to school last week. For many children, getting to and from school will take place on a school bus.
Unfortunately, every year children are injured and even killed in school bus-related crashes.
Last year, Kentucky had 1,627 school bus-related crashes resulting in 506 injuries and five deaths.
Kentucky State Police Public Affairs Trooper Michael Webb urges motorists to be alert for loading and unloading school buses.
“Nothing strikes fear in troopers’ minds like getting a call that there has been a bus-related crash,” Webb said. “As a parent myself, I know how precious those children are, and when they get on the bus, you place their safety in someone else’s hands.”
Motorists need to take extra caution anytime they are in the vicinity of a school bus, Webb said. “Stop, slow down and look for children who may be loading or unloading from the bus.”
Distracted drivers and those who speed in school zones often put children in more danger than anyone else.
“Texting while driving and using a cell phone often take a driver’s attention from the road,” he said. “Inattentive drivers may not see stops signs, reduced speed-limit signs or even the flashing lights of a school bus.”
Kentucky law states that if any school bus used in the transportation of children is stopped on a highway for the purpose of loading or unloading passengers, with the stop arm and signal lights activated, the operator of a vehicle approaching from any direction must stop and not proceed until the passengers have loaded/unloaded and the bus has been put in motion.
Passing a school bus while it is loading or unloading is a class B misdemeanor for the first offense and a class A misdemeanor for the second offense.
“As parents, we must reinforce proper school bus safety procedures with our children and this is the perfect time of year to talk with them,” Webb said.
KSP encourages parents to review the following schools bus safety rules:
Rules for getting on and off the school bus:When waiting for the bus, stay away from traffic and avoid roughhousing or other behavior that can lead to carelessness. Do not stray onto streets, alleys or private property. Line up away from the street or road as the school bus approaches. Wait until the bus has stopped and the door opens before stepping onto the roadway. Use the handrail when stepping onto the bus.
Getting off the school bus:If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk at least ten feet ahead of the bus along the side of the road, until you can turn around and see the driver. Make sure that the driver can see you.
Wait for a signal from the driver before beginning to cross. When the driver signals, walk across the road, keeping an eye out for sudden traffic changes. Do not cross the center line of the road until the driver has signaled that it is safe for you to begin walking. Stay away from the bus’ rear wheels at all times.
The correct way to cross the street:Children should always stop at the curb or the edge of the road and look left, then right, and then left again before crossing.
They should continue looking in this manner until they are safely across. If students’ vision is blocked by a parked car or other obstacle, they should move out to where drivers can see them and they can see other vehicles – then stop, and look left-right-left again.
Citizens can contribute to child safety by reporting drivers who disregard school-bus signals to KSP at (800) 222-5555.