Serious about safety: Area districts focus on bus safety for Bus Safety Week

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Every day, students travel to and from school on a bus. To ensure the safety of every student on board, the National Association for Pupil Transportation is promoting bus safety awareness during the National School Bus Safety Week, which runs from Oct. 19 to Oct. 23.

Pearl River County School District Transportation Director Lisa Beech said they plan to take initiative this week and remind students in all grade levels about bus safety via fliers, which will outline the rules and regulations students should follow, such as looking both ways before crossing a street when students enter or exit a bus, Beech said.

The fliers will also serve as a reminder for parents to teach their younger children about bus safety. Beech said younger students will also receive stickers that outline important safety rules, like using the bus’s handrails when boarding or exiting the vehicle.

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In light of the recent school bus accidents that have occurred locally— the most recent happened on Sept. 22 between a PRC school bus carrying students and Dodge Dakota that resulted in moderate injuries for the driver of the Dakota— Beech said the district’s main goal for the school year is to ensure bus drivers are trained in driving defensively.

“We all have to prepare for someone doing something wrong, whether motorists pass a bus with a stop sign pulled out, we have to have a mindset that somebody out there is going to do the wrong thing, in order to keep everyone safe,” Beech said.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses are the safest mode of motorized transportation for getting children to and from school, but injuries can occur if kids are not careful and aware when getting on and off the bus. The Mississippi Department of Transportation offered several tips in a press release about how parents can ensure younger children are safe when boarding or exiting a school bus:

—Parents should accompany their children to the bus stop and wait with them until the bus arrives.

—They should advise children to stand at least three steps away from the curb and board the bus one at a time.

—Teach kids to wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before getting off and never to walk behind the bus.

—If children need to cross the street after exiting a bus, he or she should take five giant steps in front of the bus, make eye contact with the bus driver and cross when the driver indicates it’s safe.

“For the most part we want to teach our students to be courteous and respectful of everyone, including the bus drivers, for safety reasons,” Beech said.

In the past five years, the school district has added several new buses with additional safety features, including a second bus stop sign and an electronic sign that is activated when the bus stops to pickup or unload passengers.

Beech said she’s constantly working with the transportation directors at the Picayune and Poplarville school districts in order to ensure the safety and security of all passengers aboard their buses.

For more safety tips and information about National School Bus Safety Week, visit