School Bus Safety Week

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While school bus safety is a year-round priority, this week it receives special attention.

School Bus Safety Week, which occurs the third week in October, reminds parents and students the importance of school bus safety. This year’s theme is, “At my Stop, you Stop!”

In recognition, Gov. Jay Inslee declared Oct. 20-24 as School Bus Safety Week, noting in a proclamation that “ensuring motorists adhere to the rules of the road around school buses during the loading and unloading of students is critical to maintaining safe conditions.”

Bus passing violations count released
The need for continuing education around school bus safety is highlighted by the release of data gathered this past spring.

one-day collection conducted May 1 yielded 1,678 instances in which drivers passed buses that had their stop sign out. The total is an increase of 155 reported violations (10.2 percent) from 2013. The number of districts reporting increased from 110 in 2013 to 153 in 2014.

Of the 1,678 instances:

  • 969 passed from the front; 711 from the rear
  • 781 passed in the morning; 75 at mid-day; and 824 in the afternoon
  • 1,614 passed on the left side of the bus; 66 passed on the right

“On the one hand, we’re getting more districts to participate in this count,” said Randy Dorn, superintendent of public instruction. “The increase in violations could be due to more districts participating. On the other hand, every violation is a potential accident that can harm a student. I urge all drivers to respect all traffic laws.”

Coordinated by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, the survey asked states to choose a day in Spring 2014 and have bus drivers record the number of vehicles that passed stopped buses, as well as when the passing occurred, the direction from which the passing occurred and the side of the bus on which the passing occurred.

A total of 29 states, including Washington, completed the survey. Of those states, more than 97,000 bus drivers recording 75,966 instances of passing.

Dorn noted that extrapolating the data to the state’s 295 districts and for a 180-day school year would result in nearly 580,000 violations. Of particular concern, he said, was the 66 instances of vehicles passing buses on the right – the side on which students enter the bus. In 2013, there were 32 reported instances of vehicles passing on the right. While some of these vehicles were bicycles, all vehicles are required to stop.

This school year, several Washington school districts are in the process of implementing camera systems used in ticketing offenders. In addition, there are ongoing enhanced enforcement projects by the Washington State Patrol and other law enforcement agencies. These efforts are important in raising public awareness and providing education on when a vehicle is required to stop for the school bus.