Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
Students all around the county start heading back to school this week and schools are reminding motorists to drive safe around school buses.
Ohio Revised Code 4511.75 requires motorists to stop for a school bus anytime it has stopped to load or unload. In Ohio those buses will display red flashing lights as well as a stop sign on the side of the bus. Motorists may not resume motion until the school bus has resumed motion. Bus drivers in Ohio are required to file reports with law enforcement when motorists pass them. In some communities cameras are being used to facilitate this reporting.
New Boston School District discussed the idea of adding cameras to their buses last year to catch and report motorists who were driving around their stopped school bus.
“Those cameras go right on the stop signs, so they get a great picture of the license plate; and it’s proof because you can’t take the picture unless the sign is flashing. So it’s automatic,” said New Boston Superintendent Mike Staggs.
He said several traffic incidents were reported the previous school year (2011-12), mostly on Gallia Street near Ohio 139 and also further up the road near Buch Street at the Portsmouth city limits line. When this occurs, the bus driver takes the vehicle license number and reports it to the school, which is then reported to New Boston Police and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Wheelersburg was among the first round of districts to return to school Monday morning, and Superintendent Mark Knapp agreed that motorists need to exercise caution around buses. The biggest problem area, he said, is on Dogwood Ridge Road.
“The typical problems are running the flashing lights when a bus is executing a drop off or pick up. That’s a really dangerous time because the students are typically either crossing the road. We try to always drop on the home side for students so they don’t have to cross, but that’s not always possible on the route so those become dangerous spots for us. We just ask that all the parents and public exercise caution when they see those big yellow buses,” Knapp said.
He said the Wheelersburg district has also discussed the idea of traffic cameras, but do not currently have any installed. There are, however, new cameras mounted inside their buses this year to monitor behavior and activity.
Bus safety isn’t just for motorists, either. The Ohio Department of Education offers the following tips to remind your child while getting off and on the bus:
- Always remain in direct eyesight of the bus driver;
- Get to the bus stop in plenty of time;
- Take 10 giant steps back from the curb while waiting for the bus and 10 steps when exiting the bus;
- Never try to get anything left on the bus after exiting;
- Never reach underneath the bus;
- Always follow the driver’s directions for how to cross the street;
- Be alert to traffic and look both ways; and,
- Always cross in front of the bus, but only when the bus driver signals it is safe to do so.
“As we gradually go to start the school year, the mornings will be darker but the morning pick-up and drop-off time will remain the same. Please use a lot of caution. We seem to have a lot of fog in area as we go into fall too, and all those conditions make for difficulty seeing students. We really need everyone to be very caution. Students aren’t always focused on traffic when they’re getting on and off the buses,” Knapp said.
National School Bus Safety Week is Oct. 21-25.
Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.