The Ohio Association for Pupil Transportation is joining school districts and transporting agencies locally and across the nation in celebrating the importance of National School Bus Safety Week, which is scheduled for Oct. 22-26.
This year’s theme, “I see the driver. The driver sees me,” reminds students to be cautious any time they are in close proximity to a school bus. OAPT said students need to be in a location where the bus driver can clearly see them at all times, while watching for traffic and any other hazardous situations.
OAPT also reminded motorists that they must stop for school buses and be on the lookout for children any time they are near a school bus.
"The greatest risk to our children is when they are outside of the school bus," the association said in a statement. "Student injuries and fatalities often occur as a result of motorists who attempt to pass a stopped school bus with flashing red warning lights while students load or unload."
Nearly one million Ohio students ride on school buses each day, transported by 15,000 bus drivers. According to federal studies, school buses are the safest mode of transporation for students —up to 25 times safer than by any other mode.
In Ohio, motorists are required to stop for a school bus anytime it has stopped to load or unload, per ORC 4511.75. Ohio school buses display red flashing lights as well as (at least one) stop sign on the side of the bus, OAPT added. Motorists must also remain stopped while the red lights are flashing and may not move until the bus has resumed motion. Bus drivers, meanwhile, are required to report the license plate number of violators to law enforcement. In some communities, school buses are being equipped with camera systems to facilitate this reporting.
OAPT offered the following tips to remind children:
- Always remain in direct eyesight of the bus driver;
- Arrive at the bus stop before the bus is scheduled to be there;
- Stay 10 giant steps back from the curb while waiting for the bus and 10 giant
- steps away from the bus when exiting;
- Never attempt to reach anything underneath the bus;
- Be alert to traffic at all times;
- Only cross in front of the bus after the bus driver has signaled it is safe to proceed,
- and after checking for traffic; and
- Always follow the directions of the bus driver.