Message from MSP Regarding School Bus Safety

BACK TO SCHOOL EQUALS SCHOOL BUS SAFETY

August 2012
PIKESVILLE, MD

According to the U. S. Department of Transportation, “School buses are the safest mode of transportation for getting our children back and forth to school” and the Maryland State Police are reminding motorists that school bus safety is everyone’s responsibility.

For 23 million students nationwide, the school day begins and ends with a trip on a school bus. The greatest risk is not riding the bus, but approaching or leaving the bus. Troopers are urging motorists to take extra care when driving in proximity to school buses. The reality is that motorists pose a greater threat to school bus students than they would ever have to face simply riding on the bus.

Here are a few reminders to help motorists keep our student safe this school year:

BE ALERT AND SLOW DOWN

Keep an eye out for students, since they will likely be preoccupied and may not be paying attention.

LOOK FOR THE FLASHING LIGHTS
The yellow flashing lights on the bus indicate it is preparing to stop, to unload or load students. The red flashing lights show the bus is stopped and students are getting off or on. Drivers are prohibited from passing in either direction a school bus when red flashing lights are activated, unless they are on a divided highway.

NEVER PASS ON THE RIGHT
The consequences could be tragic if students are loading or unloading. Make sure you stop your vehicle at least 20 feet either in front of behind the bus when its red lights are flashing. This gives children enough space to safely enter and exit the bus.

WALK THE ROUTE WITH YOUNGER STUDENTS

Whether your child walks to school, or just to the bus stop, it is important for an adult to initially walk the route with them, especially if they are younger. Parents or guardians can point out hazards to children and alert them to locations along the route where they should be especially cautious.

REDUCE YOUR DISTRACTIONS
This is an important tip for drivers at anytime, but especially during the school year. Reduce any distractions inside your vehicle, so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings, especially in school zones. Remember, no texting or handheld cell phone use while driving.

State troopers across Maryland will be joining their local law enforcement partners in special school bus enforcement patrols during the start of this school year. Extra patrols will be deployed on school bus routes and troopers will be specifically targeting motorists driving unsafely around school buses or ignoring the red flashing lights when a bus is stopped. These patrols will be funded by special state school bus enforcement grants coordinated through the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention.

Have a great and safe school year.

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