We are re-running this article from the Oct. 26, 2002, Times at the request of a local resident. She has seen more than 12 cars pass stopped school buses near her residence during this school year. Note Sheriff Rob Carter's words about traffic arm violations.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 90 million motorists illegally pass stopped school buses each year.
Illegal passing of a stopped school bus is a major cause of school bus-related fatalities. Most school bus fatalities occur when children are outside the bus and 75 percent of these fatalities involve children under the age of nine.
"Be cool. Follow the rules," urged Clay Community Schools Transportation Director Frank Misner.
-1. Be on time.
-2. Never run to or from the bus.
-3. Stand back from the curb.
-4. Don't push or shove.
-5. Stay in your seat.
-6. Don't yell or shout.
-7. Always obey the driver.
-8. Wait for the driver's signal before crossing.
-9. Always cross at least 10 feet in front of the bus
-10. Never crawl under a school bus.
"The success of the school bus safety program involves three tiers: Children's behavior, bus driver rules and citizen responsibility," Misner said.
Bus drivers gave elementary students the opportunity to see for themselves what the driver can and cannot see. They placed one child directly in front of the bus and another 10 feet away. When children sat in the bus driver's seat, they could see the child 10 steps away, but not the other. Then the drivers showed children the emergency exits and went through a practice drill of how to safely exit the bus in a emergency. Exits are placed at the side, rear and roof of the bus.
Misner advised parents to meet the bus. Coordinate with other parents to ensure an adult is present at the bus stop every day, especially when children under the age of nine are present. Another tip is to remove, shorten or replace drawstrings with another kind of fastener. Drawstrings can catch in school bus doors, playground equipment, fences, and escalators.
"Motorists should allow extra time when traveling to and from work during the early morning and afternoon hours when school buses are operating," Brazil City Police Chief Terry Harrison said.
"Slow down and be prepared to stop. The lights are the same on buses as on traffic lights. Yellow lights don't mean the driver should race to get past and red means to stop," Clay County Sheriff Rob Carter said.
Both law enforcement officials said they write traffic arm violation tickets, a misdemeanor, almost on a daily basis.
"We have a problem with traffic arm violations, especially on US 40 around Cloverdale and SR 46, both east and west," Carter said.
Carter also said motorists should stay two or three car-lengths behind the bus, otherwise, they are in the driver's obstructed viewing area.
"Some motorists, going in the opposite direction as the school bus, have the misconception that they don't have to stop on a four-lane highway. The only time a motorist doesn't have to stop is when a physical barrier, such as grass or concrete medium, is present," Harrison said.