State Patrol preaches bus safety

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 23, 2001

SOUTH POINT – Motorist, keep your distance and stay alert – school buses are back on the road.

Thursday, August 23, 2001

SOUTH POINT – Motorist, keep your distance and stay alert – school buses are back on the road.

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"As a motorist," said Ohio State Highway Patrol, Ironton post commander Lt. Carl Roark, "I urge you to drive defensively, watch out for children, and obey the school bus warning lights."

Roark said school buses are one of the safest mode of transportation. He said statistics show buses are 2,000 times safer than the average family vehicle and since 1984, no children have died inside a school bus in Ohio as a result of a crash.

Many people play a key role in keeping the school bus safety record intact, Roark said.

"School bus safety involves a commitment from motorists, parents, and children. Motorist must obey school bus warning lights and parents should work with their children on how to stay safe in and around the school bus," Roark said.

Roark explained that Ohio school buses have both amber and red warning lights to advise motorist when to stop. He said motorist approaching a stopped bus must stop at least 10 feet from the vehicle and may not resume travel until the bus starts moving.

He said motorist should also be careful when driving near bus stops. Roark said drivers should watch out for children playing or congregating near bus stops and should watch for children that may have arrived at the bus stop late and are darting into the road without paying attention.

Penalties for violating the law can be stiff. Failure to yield for a stopped school bus can result in a fine up to $500 and motorists can have their license suspended for a maximum of one year.

"The Highway Patrol is committed to making the roadways in Ohio as safe to travel as possible," Roark said, and school bus safety is a key issue to the Patrol. He said every year the State Patrol motor vehicle inspectors certify the safety of every school bus in the state at least twice a year. Roark said the "hard work" of the inspectors "ensures the safety of every child who rides those buses during the school year."

Roark also advised parents that they should reinforce the school bus rules the school system has in place. "As parents," Roark said, "I propose you cover school bus safety in detail with your children. The focus should be on safety and alertness when loading and unloading, as well as reinforcement of the rules."

He added, "we need everyone’s help to make the ride in the bus to and from school as safe as possible for our children and make this a safe school year."