School bus safety: Obey law, lights to protect children

  • Published
  • By Ann E. Lukens
  • Moody AFB school liaison officer
(Editor's note: School Bus Safety Week takes place Oct. 20 through 24. Drivers are reminded to obey all safety laws regarding school buses at all times.)

When we kiss our kids goodbye and watch them board a school bus, we assume they will be safe.  Although riding a bus to and from school is just about the safest way for them to travel, getting on and off that bus can be dangerous.

The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services held a panel in 2010 and passed a resolution to initiate a national survey.  The National Stop Arm Violation Count now determines the prevalence of drivers passing of school buses illegally.  State-level transportation directors from participating states chose a day for all bus drivers to record the number of times motorists pass stopped buses displaying the flashing red light and deployed "stop arms."

Here are some national statistics that show the danger our kids face every school day, and the results are shocking:

· 85,279 vehicles illegally passed 108,436 stopped buses in 2012
· 88,025 vehicles illegally passed 99,930 stopped buses in 2013
· 75,996 vehicles illegally passed 97,265 stopped buses in 2014

To bring the statistics a little closer to home, 7,349 vehicles in Georgia passed buses loading and unloading students in 2012. In 2013, the number dropped to 6,807, but has increased to 7,619 vehicles this year. 

On April 23, 49 vehicles illegally passed Lowndes County buses and 14 passed Valdosta City school buses.  Both Lanier and Berrien county schools reported no illegal passing on that date; however, bus drivers in Berrien County reported an average of three or four violations weekly.  School transportation officials urge drivers to slow down and stop as soon as the amber blinking lights on the bus are turned on.

Why bring this to your attention? Because not only is a "stop arm" violation illegal, but every time it happens there is a real possibility a child could be killed trying to board the bus.  Is a few extra seconds worth the life of a child?  I don't think so.  Do you?