More school buses are on the roads now as an increasing number of students return to the classroom for the first time this school year following schedule changes due to COVID-19. Seeing a school bus picking up and dropping off children may feel like a distant memory, which is why First Student is reminding motorists “Red Lights Mean STOP!” in support of National School Bus Safety Week, October 19-23.
According to the National Safety Council, vehicle fatalities have surged during the pandemic, largely due to speed and reckless driving behavior. Despite being big and bright, school buses are often overlooked by distracted drivers who don’t notice the bus lights until it’s too late.
Passing a stopped school bus from behind as it loads and unloads children is illegal in all 50 states. However, in the most recent national stop arm survey, the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) tallied more than 95,000 stop arm violations in just one day, which equates to more than 17 million illegal passes over the course of a typical 180-day school year.
“When motorists illegally pass a school bus, it may save time, but it could cost lives,” said First Student President Paul G. Osland. ““We all have an important role to play to ensure children are safe in and around the school bus. Our drivers take tremendous care when transporting students. We also need motorists to be alert for school buses and aware of stop arm laws.”
All states require traffic in both directions to stop on undivided roadways when students are entering or exiting a school bus. While state laws vary on what is required on a divided roadway, in all cases, traffic traveling behind the school bus must come to a complete stop until the stop arm and red lights are deactivated, and the bus begins moving.
The National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) sponsors National School Bus Safety Week every year during the third week of October. Its student poster contest also brings national and local attention to school bus safety. Red Lights Mean STOP! is the theme for 2020.
About First Student, Inc.
As the leading school transportation solutions provider in North America, First Student strives to provide the best start and finish to every school day. First Student completes five million student journeys each day, moving more passengers than all U.S. airlines combined. With a team of highly-trained drivers and the industry’s strongest safety record, First Student delivers reliable, quality services including full-service transportation and management, special-needs transportation, route optimization and scheduling, maintenance, and charter services for 1,100 school district contracts. For more information, please visit firststudentinc.com.