(Bismarck, ND) – National School Bus Safety Week will be held the week of October 17-21, 2011. The annual event is an active and evolving public education program designed to promote school bus safety. Ongoing education, training, proper maintenance and traffic enforcement efforts all combine to ensure that public school buses remain the safest form of transportation for North Dakota students.
The North Dakota Highway Patrol (NDHP) is actively involved with school transportation safety efforts. Troopers perform safety inspections, through a voluntary partnership with the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI), on approximately 1,900 publicly owned school buses each year. Troopers also speak at school bus driver workshops on a regular basis, discussing safety regulations and other issues related to the safe transportation of North Dakota school children.
North Dakota law requires that if a stopped school bus is displaying alternating flashing red lights or a stop sign control arm, a driver of a vehicle meeting or overtaking the stopped bus from either direction (front or back) must stop before reaching the school bus. Motorists may not proceed until the red lights are deactivated, the bus driver signals them to proceed, or the bus resumes motion. “This law protects the children as they are loading or exiting the bus,” states Lieutenant Jody Skogen, NDHP Safety and Education Officer. “Children are placed in danger when motorists fail to stop as directed by the bus driver.” The enforcement consequence for failing to yield as required for a school bus is a $50 fine and six points being assessed to the violator’s driving record.
Specific equipment and traffic regulations are in place to provide safety for children inside, as well as in the nearby vicinity, of a school bus. Lighting, reflectors, mirrors, stop arms, emergency exits and school bus yellow paint are all standard safety features. School buses have been involved in 186 traffic crashes in North Dakota since 2007, resulting in 63 injuries and 0 deaths. Data provided by the NDDPI indicates that none of these injuries were sustained by students on the buses.
The NDHP asks motorists to exercise caution when around schools, buses and during periods before and after school. Parents should remind their children to be wary of traffic. They can also protect their kids by purchasing items such as jackets, shoes or backpacks with reflective material. Reflective tags or key chains can also be clipped to backpacks for additional protection. Reflective items alert drivers to the presence of children as they walk to and from school during the abbreviated daylight hours present during much of the North Dakota school year.