New school year begins soon, drive carefully, watch for children
Published 7:00 am Wednesday, July 23, 2014
The beginning of school is right around the corner and a large number of children will rely on the school bus to transport them to and from school.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website, the greatest risk is not riding the bus, but approaching or leaving the bus.
Pearl River County School District’s Transportation Director, Lisa Beech said the district has programs to educate children and parents about bus safety.
“At the beginning of the year we host SOAR,” Beech said, “which stands for safe, orderly and respectful.”
Beech said bus drivers visit the elementary schools and show children how to cross the road, board a bus safely and recognizing the driver’s hand signals.
It is important for parents and the general public to watch for children and buses, Beech said.
“Our number one objective is safety to and from school,” Beech said. “In order to do so, we need cooperation from parents and the general public.”
Beech said they have rules for bus stops and while on the bus.
“It’s always good for a parent to be at stops,” Beech said.
Children should arrive five minutes before the bus, stay out of the road and stand where they can be seen and wait for driver to flag them down before getting on the bus, Beech said.
“Children must sit facing forward on the bus, keep hands to themselves, keep quiet at railroad crossings and there is no eating or drinking while on the bus,” Beech said.
Beech urges the general public to be aware of school buses and children getting on and off buses.
“This year we pressed charges on about 10 people for passing a stopped bus,” Beech said. “Our local judges and district attorney have been very good about following through when we press charges.”
Drivers need to pay attention to the lights.
A flashing yellow light means the bus is getting ready to stop and so drivers should slow down.
A flashing red light with the stop sign extended means the bus is stopped and children are getting on and off the bus, Beech said.
All bus drivers in the Pearl River County school district are state certified, certified in CPR and first aid, submit to a Department of Transportation physical and submit to random drug testing. Also, their licenses are run though Department of Motor Vehicles every summer, Beech said.
“The more eyes we have on the roads, buses and children, the better,” Beech said.
Learn more about bus safety at www.nhtsa.gov/School-Buses and www.dot.gov.