Bus safety pushed
Staff Reports, Hartselle Enquirer
School buses are back on Morgan County's roads and the wheels are turning to educate drivers about school bus safety.
A billboard campaign in Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Auburn, Montgomery and Mobile is in effect now until the end of September reminding drivers "STOP for School Buses. It's the Law!"
The third annual campaign is designed to remind Alabama motorists to stop for school buses while loading and unloading young passengers.
According to a study conducted by the Alabama Department of Education's Student Transportation Section, two-thirds of local public school systems reported nearly 2,652 illegal school bus passings in the one-day study last spring.
The study also found 94 percent of the illegal passings occurred on the left side of the school bus, 71 percent took place on two-lane roads, and 68 percent occurred at bus stops where one to five students were being loaded or unloaded.
"Students are unnecessarily being placed at risk for death or serious injury more than 464,000 times in an average 175-day school year by motorists who simply fail to obey the law," State Administrator of Pupil Transportation Joe Lightsey said. "Every parent of a school child should be concerned about what motorists are doing while a school bus is stopped."
At least three students statewide have been killed and several injured in the past four years by motorists who have failed to stop for school buses. Under Alabama law, traffic from all directions must stop when a school bus loads or unloads children. Also, traffic must not proceed until the school bus has resumed motion or the red lights are no longer flashing. This applies to both two and four lane highways.
A school bus survey for the 2002-2003 academic year will be conducted on Wednesday, Nov. 13. The Alabama Department of Education is requesting all Alabama public school bus drivers to observe and record vehicles that illegally pass their buses when the stop arm is extended. Results will again be compiled and made public upon completion of the survey.
ALDOT is providing funding for the billboard campaign to ensure the safety of Alabama's estimated 374,000 students who are transported daily by public school buses.
National School Bus Safety Week is Oct. 20-26.