2007-08-25 / Schools

It's time to watch out for school buses

COLUMBUS - The Ohio State Highway Patrol is reminding motorists that school buses and students are returning to Ohio roadways over the next few weeks and everyone should be observant and use caution when traveling this fall.

Last year in Ohio there were 1,809 crashes involving school buses, causing eight fatalities to other motorists and 612 injuries to other motorists and school bus occupants.

Motorists can do their part by starting to think about school bus safety the moment the vehicle is started and prepare for school bus stops by allowing extra time when leaving home. When backing out of a garage or driveway, they should watch for children walking to the school bus.

In addition, it is important children are taught to wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver indicates it is clear before boarding the bus. Children should never walk behind a bus and should stay at least 10 steps away from the side and front of the bus.

Motorists are also reminded to keep these tips in mind when driving:

• Vehicles must stop when the bus displays flashing red warning lights and extends the stop signal arm. Vehicles may not pass until the flashing red lights and signals are off.

• Remember all Ohio school buses are required to stop, look both ways, and listen through an open door or window before crossing train tracks. Motorists should maintain an assured clear distance between their vehicle and a school bus to avoid crashes.

• Never pass on the right side of the bus where children enter or exit.

• When driving on roadways with school zones, watch out for less experienced student drivers who may be driving to school for the first time.

• Student drivers should also be aware of school buses when driving to school grounds and should decrease their speed accordingly, limit distractions, and require passengers to wear their safety belt.

The Patrol's Motor Vehicle Inspection Teams inspects every Ohio school bus at least twice each year, once prior to the beginning of the school year and once during the school year. Last year, patrol personnel inspected 46,256 school buses, and found only 921 out of compliance and in need of a follow-up inspection before being cleared to transport children.

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