The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 24, 2012

School bus safety

Motorists can’t be too careful


— It’s National School Bus Safety Week this week.

The West Virginia Department of Education is partnering with state and local law enforcement officers to raise awareness and promote safety.

Officers will be watching for speeding in school bus zones and drivers who pass buses illegally, breaking the stop-arm law.

It’s a time to reflect on safety issues that affect most every family, and certainly every neighborhood.

In West Virginia, school buses travel more than 41 million miles each year, transporting about 230,000 students, according to the state Department of Education.

“School bus transportation is the safest way to get children to school each day,” West Virginia state schools Superintendent Jorea Marple says. “Yet, when motorists fail to obey the law, they endanger the lives of our children, our drivers and themselves. We must do everything we can to make sure our children are safe.”

Unfortunately, an 8-year-old child is currently hospitalized because of an accident last week in Nicholas County. A driver was charged with failing to stop for a school bus.

Which brings this important issue to even closer to home.

We should be more cognizant and observe the following tips:

— When driving in neighborhoods and school zones, watch out for young people who may distracted and not thinking about safety.

— Slow down. Watch for children playing and congregating near school bus stops.

— Be alert. Children arriving late for the school bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.

— If possible, parents should walk with their children to the bus stop and wait with them until they get on the school bus.

Parents should also share the following tips with their children:

— Wait until the bus driver says it is safe to board. Then get on one at a time.

— Once you’re off the school bus, walk five giant steps from the front of the bus, cross in front of the bus when the driver indicates it is safe, stop at the edge of the bus — look left-right-left again for traffic, and if there’s no traffic, cross the street.

— Ask the driver for help if you drop something while getting on or off the school bus.

— Keep your loose items inside you backpack or book bag.

— Once on the school bus, go directly to you seat and sit down facing forward. Remain in your seat facing forward when the school bus is moving.

— Be respectful of the school bus driver, and always obey his or her instructions.

— Tell children to use handrails when getting on and off the bus, and be careful of drawstrings and book bag straps that could get caught in handrails and doors.

The safety tips are provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For more information, visit www.nhtsa.gov.