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10-20-05 - When it comes to kids and school buses, you can’t be too safe. Unfortunately, many citizen drivers don’t exercise caution, and that’s where the law steps in, literally. Grayson County Troopers rode along on bus routes Wednesday morning looking for offenders.
This week is National School Bus Safety Week. To encourage awareness, a two-man team was assigned to one of the busiest bus routes in the city of Sherman. One trooper rode on the bus, radioing to his partner in a patrol car up front in case someone sped by the stopped bus. Schools say it happens all the time not only in Sherman but across the country, putting the safety of students at risk as the cross the street to board or get off the bus.
“We know that a lot of times school buses are out there holding up traffic, waiting on students. People are trying to get to work, but it’s very important that we consider the lives of the students to be our number one priority,” says Randy Reddell, Transportation Director for Sherman ISD.
Here are the traffic laws, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety:
Texas state law requires drivers to stop for school buses that are stopped and have activated their alternating red flashing lights. Motorists who do not stop face fines of up to $1,000 plus court costs if they are convicted. The minimum ticket in Grayson County is $325.
“Drivers should not proceed until the school bus resumes motion; the driver is signaled by the bus driver to proceed; or the visual signal is no longer activated," said Charley Kennington, DPS program administrator for school bus transportation.
If a road is divided only by a left-turning lane, drivers on both sides of the roadway must stop for school buses with alternating red flashing lights activated. However, if the lanes are separated by an intervening space or physical barrier, only motorists going in the same direction as the bus are required to stop.
"During the 2004-2005 school year in Texas, there were no fatalities resulting from the illegal passing of a school bus while it was loading or unloading students," Kennington said. However, a nine-year year average shows 11 injuries annually that result from illegal passing.
Total traffic incidents involving school buses have increased nearly 36 percent since 1991. During that same time-span, the number of buses has increased 21 percent and the miles driven have increased by 28 percent.
Although 35,000 school buses transport 1.4 million Texas children daily, school buses remain one of the safest modes of transportation, accounting for less than one-half of one percent of Texas roadway accidents.