Organizations to Collectively Observe National School Bus Safety Week
The Rochester Police Department (RPD), Rochester Public School District and First Student will be taking steps to recognize the 2019 National School Bus Safety Week, which will take place October 21-25, 2019. The theme this year is "My School Bus, The Safest Form of Student Transportation!"
Locally, law enforcement is working on an update to the stop-arm violation complaint process. In the past, if the bus driver did not include all of the elements of the crime, required by statute, the cases became inactive. Now all reported violations will be assigned to officers to conduct follow up. In addition to the change in the process, RPD is also working with First Student and the schools to implement an education component to help the bus drivers better understand what evidence is required to successfully prosecute violators.
RPD is also implementing proactive efforts where an officer will ride on the bus to witness violations first hand, having a second officer in a squad car to immediately stop and cite the violator. Through all of these actions, the intent is to reduce and, hopefully, eliminate motorists who not adhere to the laws when buses are stopped.
Chief Jim Franklin shares, “The safety of our children is of utmost importance. Recently, we have seen an increase in the number of motorists who are not complying with the stop-arm law. This law is vitally important to the safety of children getting on and off buses. We ask all motorists to be aware when they approach a bus.”
Held during the third full week of October each year, National School Bus Safety Week is an active and evolving public education program and an excellent way for parents, students, teachers, motorists, school bus operators, school administrators, and other interested parties - to join forces and address the importance of school bus safety.
“Annually, the Rochester Public School District works with our partners at First Student to provide our students training and education on bus safety. Every student in grades kindergarten through tenth receive a classroom lesson plus a hands-on school bus lesson,” said Michael Muñoz, Superintendent of Rochester Public Schools. “We train all students, even walkers, so they are familiar when they ride buses for field trips, and have general pedestrian awareness.”
First Student has increased its safety measures with stop-arm cameras to rotate between some of their school buses. “We train our drivers to report stop-arm violations,” said Jon Goetz, Location Manager for First Student. “The safety of students is our most important priority, and we believe the stop-arm cameras, in conjunction with the stop-arm violation process, will help protect our students even more.”
There are recommended tips for drivers, which will make school bus transportation safer for everyone:
- When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.
- Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in neighborhood.
- Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
- Learn and obey the school bus laws in your state, as well as the "flashing signal light system" that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending actions:
- Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
- Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.