My apologies for waiting until the end of National School Bus Safety Week to get this article published!  But the safety of our children that ride school buses is an important matter throughout each school year.  The theme of this year’s observance is “Be Aware – Know the Danger Zone!”  Did you know that an area 10 feet around the bus is a distance that students, bus drivers, and other motorists should be aware of?  The annual campaign aims to educate the public on school bus safety issues.  According to House Resolution 498, from July 18, 2006, here are excerpts from the latest version of the bill that is currently available on Gov.Track: 

“There are approximately 480,000 yellow school buses that carry 25 million children to and from school every weekday; Whereas America’s 480,000 school buses comprise the largest mass transportation fleet in the country – 2.5 times the size of all other forms of mass transportation (transit, intercity buses, commercial airlines, and rail, combined -; Whereas during the school year, these buses make more than 50 million passenger trips daily carrying the Nation’s future – our children.

Whereas school bus transportation is eight times safer than traveling in a passenger vehicle; and is the safest form of ground transportation available.  School buses meet higher construction, equipment and inspection standards than any other vehicle, and school bus drivers meet higher qualification, training, and testing standards than any other drivers.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, an average of 820 students are killed annually during school transportation hours, but less than 2 per cent of them are school bus passengers.  Despite the industry’s best efforts, accidents still happen; An average of seven school-age passengers are killed annually in school bus crashes, and an average of 19 children are killed each year getting on and off the bus.  Most of those killed are children aged five to seven, and most often they are killed in the area immediately surrounding the bus. (The Danger Zone.)

School Bus Safety Week is celebrated in more than 40 states and sponsored by the NHTSA, created to remind all students of the best ways to get on and off the bus.  This SBSW dates back to 1966, and also recognizes the hard work and dedication of school transportation personnel, especially the many drivers who ensure a safe journey each and every day.” 

It is against the law to pass a stopped school bus, loading or unloading students.  The bus has flashing red lights, and an arm that swings out to warn motorists to stop at a safe distance behind the bus, allowing the children to cross the road if necessary.  Drivers must be courteous and let the bus driver to do their job safely.  They are the first person that the children see who represents their school district every morning.  They are the last person the students see as they leave to go home.  With the large number of students who ride school buses every day, they should know that they will get to and from school safety. 

In many states, when a vehicle illegally passes a stopped school bus with red lights activated, troopers who are following (or may be riding on the bus) will radio ahead to other troopers who will pull over the offending motorist and issue a ticket that could cost up to $1,000. (Texas) 

Remember that this is about keeping children safe; you should always stop for a school bus regardless of your chances of getting caught.  It is certainly not worth the risk to save a few minutes of your time.