Bus Safety imperative

Pictured from left to right are former Avery County Schools Superintendent Bryan Taylor, District Attorney Seth Banks, NC Highway Patrolman Matt Pitman and ACS Transportation Director Brian King, gathering at the ACS Central Office to promote school bus safety and remind citizens of the importance of minding school buses on local roads. According to a recent press release from Banks, the county had a 100-percent conviction rate for those charged with violating the state’s School Bus Stop Law in the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

Every day millions of students use school buses as transportation to and from school. Although school buses represent the safest form of highway transportation, there are a number of safety factors of which both student and drivers should be aware. Hoping to ensure school bus safety, Sheriff Kevin Frye of Avery County encourages caution whenever school buses are present.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in recent years there were an average of 128 fatalities in school transportation-related traffic crashes each year and more school-aged pedestrians have been killed during the hours of 7 to 8 a.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. than any other time of day.

“Children are often eager to get off the school bus because they are excited to tell their parents about all of the fun they had at school that day,” Frye said. “It is crucial that parents reinforce the school bus safety rules children learn at school.”

Frye said instances of passing stopped school buses happens between a half-dozen and a dozen times during a school year. No children have been struck by school buses in Avery County in several years.

“But all it takes is one,” Frye said.

Punishment for running past a stopped school bus can have severe penalties.

“The buses have cameras so there’s hardly any way to get away with it,” Frye said.

Frye said N.C. State Highway Patrol will typically track down and cite someone who runs a bus stop sign.

Frye also suggests that parents drive their child’s bus route with them to practice the proper safety precautions they can take to help ensure their child enjoys a safe ride to and from school.

In a press release, Frye encouraged all parents to discuss the following safety measures with their children:

Students

  • Always arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes early.
  • While the bus is approaching make sure to stand at least three giant steps away from the curb, wait until the bus has come to a complete stop, the door opens, and the bus driver says that it’s OK to board.
  • Make eye contact with the driver so that you are sure he or she sees you.
  • Never walk behind the bus.
  • If you are walking beside the bus, walk at least three giant steps away.
  • Use the handrail when entering and exiting the bus. Take extra precautions to make sure that clothing with drawstrings and book bags do not get caught in the handrail or door.
  • Never stop to pick something up that you have dropped when a bus is stopped. Tell the bus driver or wait until the bus has driven off to avoid not being seen by the driver.

Motorists

  • Remember that children are unpredictable in their actions. Take extreme caution when traveling in a school zone.
  • If there are no sidewalks, drive cautiously. Be more alert to the possibility of children walking in the road.
  • Slow down and prepare to stop whenever you see yellow school bus lights flashing.
  • Never pass a school bus when there are flashing red lights and the stop arm is extended. This is a sign that children are getting on or off the bus. Motorists must wait until the red lights stop flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and the bus is moving before they can start driving again.
  • Learn and obey the school bus laws in North Carolina.

Additional information courtesy National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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