Return to Headlines

Safety in school & bus zones

School safety in school and bus zones

Recent events in and around our community have brought to light an increasingly visible and urgent threat to the safety of all of our children. Incidents of careless, distracted, aggressive driving are endangering student and staff pedestrians before and after school, even in Carl Junction. The same behavior has also been documented – endangering bus riders during loading and unloading situations.

 

Each morning and afternoon, thousands of children and vehicles converge in the relative small area on the Carl Junction campus. Walkers, bike or scooter riders, bus riders, and students that are dropped-off and picked-up are all at risk.

 

Assistant Principal DJ Driskill, who is on the front lines each day while handling the stop-and-go traffic for drop-off and pick-up in front of the Primary K-1 said, “An awareness and attentiveness of one’s surroundings is key in keeping everyone safe. It only takes one small distraction, such as a text or adjusting the radio, to drastically change your life and the life of a child.”

 

While there are obviously many pedestrians close to the schools, children throughout the District, in neighborhoods and rural areas, are also near roadways as they walk and wait at bus stops.

 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers these tips to keep pedestrians safe:

  • Always slow down and be prepared to yield to pedestrians when they’re in a crosswalk and do not block crosswalks.
  • Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk, as there may be people crossing whom you can’t see.
  • Yield to pedestrians and cyclists when turning.
  • Be extra cautious when backing up across sidewalks or in parking lots.
  • By law, drivers must share the road with cyclists and pedestrians giving at least three feet of space when passing.
  • Put down your phones. The streets around the school campus are a “No Phone Zone.”
  • Look for the unexpected. Children sometimes make unpredictable, distracted, and erratic decisions. Even in unmarked areas, please drive slowly and be very attentive.

 

Keeping children safe in and around buses is another area of concern. Recent tragedies and near misses occurring during school bus loading and unloading have everyone’s attention.

Carl Junction Schools’ Transportation Director Jared Richmond shared the following alarming details, “Our district’s bus drivers report 10+ stop-arm violations a week. If our video cameras can catch the license plate, the violations are turned over to the local police or highway patrol for prosecution. We try to explain to everyone that the cargo that we are hauling cannot be replaced.”

“We train the drivers and the students to be as safe as possible, at all times, while around a school bus.  However, this can only go so far if other drivers continue to break the law and run our stop-arms and drive recklessly,” continued Richmond.

The National Safety Council offers this information about sharing the road with school buses:

  • When school buses are present, drive slower and be aware that there may be children in the vicinity.
  • When driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were behind a car.
  • It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
  • When yellow lights are activated on a bus, motorists should slow down and prepare to stop.
  • Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off the bus. Motorists must stop and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is withdrawn and the bus begins moving again before moving.
  • Motorists going both directions must stop for a stopped school bus on all two-lane roads or highways or two-lane roads with a center turn lane.
  • On four-lane roads, all drivers behind a stopped school bus must stop. Bus drivers may not let children off if they have to cross the oncoming traffic lanes so oncoming motorists do not have to stop.
  • The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children, stop at least 25 feet behind or in front, roughly two car lengths, to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus.

 

The American School Bus Council reports - of school bus loading and unloading fatalities, two-thirds are caused by passing vehicles who do not yield to the warning signs. They estimate that over 10 million drivers a year illegally pass a school bus.

Richmond also shares this plea, “Please slow down, put down your phone, and take extra time when school buses or children are present. I can’t imagine the devastating heartache and loss from losing a child in such a senseless situation.”