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Keeping students safe on and off the bus is a job for the entire community

Diagram of Bus Stopping Procedures February 3, 2020

 

Each day‭, ‬as the wheels on the school bus‭ ‬“go‭ ‬‘round and‭ ‬‘round‭,‬”‭ ‬keeping students safe in the Parma City School District becomes the important job for approximately 100‭ ‬bus drivers from the Transportation Department‭. 

However‭, ‬keeping students safe each school day is really a responsibility for all of us on the road and in the community‭.‬

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration‭, ‬25‭ ‬million children nationwide take about 472,000‭ ‬school buses‭ ‬to attend school each day‭. ‬In Parma‭, ‬107‭ ‬buses throughout the district safely deliver about 3,500‭ ‬children to school‭, ‬covering 30‭ ‬square miles‭.‬

School buses are specifically designed to be safe for children‭, ‬and according to the NHTSA‭, ‬they are‭ ‬“the most regulated vehicles on the road‭.‬”‭ ‬In fact‭, ‬school buses are the safest way to get a child to school‭, ‬with students 70‭ ‬times more likely to get to school safe in‭ ‬a school bus than traveling by car‭, ‬according to the NHTSA‭.‬

Yet‭, ‬each year‭, ‬students nationwide are placed in harm’s way when loading and unloading off the bus‭. ‬And recently‭, ‬that’s garnered the attention of local authorities and school districts‭, ‬who continually strive to get children safe to school each day‭, ‬no matter what‭.‬

According to PCSD Transportation Supervisor Angelo Caputo‭, ‬the rules in Ohio are pretty straight forward for motorists when school buses stop to load and unload students‭. ‬

On a road with fewer than four lanes‭, ‬all traffic approaching a stopped school bus must stop at least 10‭ ‬feet from the front and‭ ‬rear of the bus‭. ‬Traffic must remain stopped until the bus begins to move‭, ‬or the driver signals other drivers to proceed‭. ‬This‭ ‬includes two and three-lane roads‭, ‬including a road with a center turning lane‭.‬

On a road with four or more lanes of traffic‭, ‬only traffic moving in the same direction of the bus must stop‭.  ‬This includes a four-lane highway with a center turn lane‭.‬

“If you’re behind the bus you always have to stop‭, ‬no matter what‭,‬”‭ ‬Caputo explained‭. ‬“But if you’re on the opposite side of the road and maybe you don’t know‭, ‬be prepared to stop‭. ‬If you don’t know‭ - ‬and that’s the problem‭ - ‬a lot of people don’t know‭. ‬Some people stop and some people don’t‭. ‬Just use caution and be prepared to stop‭.‬”

According to Caputo‭, ‬many times motorists run through the flashing red lights for two reasons‭, ‬either from distracted driving or‭ ‬from being in a hurry‭. ‬Each day‭, ‬Caputo says he gets‭ ‬“several”‭ ‬reports of motorists running past established student bus drops‭. ‬

“Often times we get concerns from citizens about a bus taking too long at a bus stop‭,‬”‭ ‬Caputo expressed‭. ‬“Sometimes people need to understand that we do need to provide special needs transportation for students that take a little extra time getting on and off the bus‭. ‬Whether that is because they are in a wheelchair‭, ‬or because they need more assistance using‭ ‬the steps‭, ‬or they’re having a bad day and not want to get up out of their seats right away‮…‬I know sometimes it can be inconvenient or frustrating‭,‬‭ ‬but our job is not to stop and block traffic all day‭. ‬Our job is to make sure our students are safe and sometimes they just need a little bit of extra time‭.‬”

In Ohio‭, ‬consequences are severe for drivers fail to stop for a school bus‭. ‬Motorists can have two points added to their license‭, ‬along with possible fines up to‭ $‬500‭. ‬In addition‭, ‬a judge may suspend a license up to one year‭. ‬Penalties become even more severe if an injury is sustained by a pedestrian during a bus stop‭.‬

Bus drivers will write down license plate numbers‭, ‬along with makes and models of vehicles that violate the law‭. ‬In addition‭, ‬the department almost daily receives tips from other drivers in the community who are concerned about students’‭ ‬safety‭. 

In either case‭, ‬PCSD Transportation works closely with local law enforcement to pursue charges against the driver‭. ‬According to‭ ‬Caputo‭, ‬each week‭, ‬the PCSD has enough information to send to police to convict at least five to seven offenses‭.‬

“Since all of this has been so visible in the community‭, ‬we have community members that will call in and provide the make and model of vehicles‭, ‬or even their license plate‭,‬”‭ ‬Caputo added‭. ‬“So‭, ‬one good thing with all of this publicity about school bus safety in the last year and a half is that the community is more‭ ‬aware of it‭. ‬If they see something that happens‭, ‬they will definitely report it‭.‬”

Caputo encourages drivers just to have patience and caution the next time they are out on the roadways and especially near school buses‭.‬

“If everyone stops and maybe they didn’t have to‭, ‬that’s okay‭,‬”‭ ‬Caputo said‭. ‬“It just means people took a little bit of extra caution to make sure everybody was safe‭.‬”

 

PHOTO CAPTION:  

TOP‭: ‬Procedures in Ohio for automobiles to stop on a two-lane highway‭ (‬TOP LEFT‭), ‬a two-lane highway with center turn lane‭ (‬TOP‭ ‬RIGHT‭) ‬and a three-lane highway‭ (‬MIDDLE LEFT‭).  ‬

BELOW‭: ‬Procedures for automobiles on a four-lane highway‭ (‬BOTTOM LEFT‭) ‬and four-lane highway with center turn lane‭ (‬BOTTOM RIGHT‭).‬