Bus safety paramount as schools begin new year


    ROSBOROFlashing Red – School bus safety is a critical issue for Arkansas schools and families. During a special three-week public awareness campaign, educators and community leaders across the state will actively work to remind students, parents and the community about the importance of school bus safety and related issues.
    As students prepare to return to school next week, student safety, especially around school buses, becomes a priority for parents and educators. To increase the importance of obeying traffic laws when near a stopped school bus, the Arkansas Department of Education kicks off its annual school bus safety campaign this week.
    Flashing Red. Kids Ahead. is the theme for the campaign, which will begin August 10 and conclude August 28. Schools and safety advocates throughout the Natural State will be using the three weeks as an opportunity to remind Arkansas motorists to obey all traffic laws whenever they are near a school bus. Drivers will also be reminded that it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus whenever its red lights are flashing and students are getting on or off a bus.
    “This effort reminds motorists they play an important role in keeping our students safe,” said Centerpoint School District transportation Director Jimmy Forsythe. “With schools set to begin a new year, we want to ask all motorists to exercise care and patience whenever they are near or around a school bus.”
    The fines, penalties and punishment for anyone found guilty of illegally passing a stopped school bus were increased dramatically by Arkansas Code Annotated 27-51-1004, also known as Isaac’s Law. The legislation passed by the Arkansas General Assembly in 2005 was named for Isaac Brian, an elementary school student in the Bryant School District who was struck and killed when a driver illegally passed his school bus while students were getting off the bus.
    “A school bus stops for only a few moments,” Key said. “When it comes to student safety, a few seconds is not worth risking injury. Safety is everyone’s responsibility. Let’s all do our part to ensure our children have a safe school year.”
    “This campaign also serves as an excellent time to teach and reiterate to students and parents simple measures they can take while going to and from the bus stop, getting on and off the bus, and riding the bus,” said Forsythe. “It also gives us a chance to thank and honor the professional school bus drivers who devote themselves to transporting our most precious cargo.”
    In Arkansas, a fleet of nearly 6,000 school buses transport more than a quarter of a million students to and from school and school-related activities each school day. In the Centerpoint School District, a fleet of 12 school buses travels the roads each school day.
    “ADE is proud to partner with the Arkansas Association of Pupil Transportation to raise awareness of the importance of student safety in and around school buses,” said ADE Commissioner Johnny Key. “Student safety is of the utmost importance, not just during this three-week campaign but throughout the entire school year. Remember: Flashing Red. Kids Ahead.”
    For more information about the Flashing Red. Kids Ahead. campaign, please visit the ADE website, www.arkansased.gov, which includes school bus saftey tips highly recommended by Forsythe.
    “Everyone must do his part to keep our children safe as they travel to and from school and school-related activities. Parents can help by talking with their children about safety rules for traveling to and from the bus stop, getting on and off the bus, and riding the bus. Motorists can also help by paying special attention to safe driving rules and obeying all traffic laws. Please help our students have a safe and productive school year,” said Forsythe.
    On average, a bus stops for approximately three minutes for students to get on and off the bus. In simplest terms, a driver will only wait 180 seconds.
    “That is such a short amount of time, but it is enough time for a tragedy to occur,” Forsythe concluded.

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