Did you know that school busses transport over 22 million pupils each day in the United States and that over 260 thousand students are transported each day in Iowa? That's 260 thousand good reasons for motorists to be more alert during the school year.
School bussing is an important function of the North Tama County Community School District. Last year, we traveled over 59,000 miles on our regular bus routes. Our main concern is safety. We maintain our busses in safe condition, and they are inspected twice every school year by Iowa Department of Education inspectors and the State Patrol.All students who ride a school bus during the course of a school year must receive instruction in school bus passenger safety and participate in school bus evacuation drills.
One of the greatest hazards comes from motorists who do not observe the school bus warning and stop arm systems. All Iowa school busses utilize the 8-lamp warning system. These lights are located on the front and rear of the bus near the top where you see the SCHOOL BUS sign. School bus drivers are required to activate the amber (yellow) warning lamps well in advance of their designated school bus stop and must then activate the red flashing warning lamps and extend the stop arm as soon as the bus comes to a stop on the roadway. It is a moving violation for motorists to pass a school bus from the rear when either amber (yellow) or red flashing warning lamps are in operation. Motorists approaching a school bus from the front with its amber lamps activated must slow their vehicles and be prepared to stop when the school bus stops and remain stopped until the school bus lamps are turned off and the stop arm retracted. One of the most frequent complaints of school bus drivers is that motorists do not obey the school bus stop law. Each time a motorist violates the school bus stop law, he or she creates a real hazard for the students who are boarding or leaving the bus. We haven't had anyone get seriously hurt yet, but there have been some close calls.
Another potential hazard occurs when loading and unloading of the bus. The bus drivers instruct the students to do the following when entering or leaving their bus.
Be ready at your scheduled time.
Wait until bus stops and driver signals you to cross the roadway before you walk towards the bus.
Look both ways before crossing any roadway.
Walk at a rate that will not hold up traffic for extended period of time (don't loaf).
Avoid crowding and pushing when boarding or unloading the bus.
Find a place to sit down, stay in your seat, and face the front of the bus.
The third hazard that I would like to make everyone aware of is students being dropped off and picked up at school. We have procedures in place to prevent students from injuries at these locations. The procedures are for the safety of our students and need to be followed by all motorists in the area.
* We ask that you do not drop students off in the street and let them walk across the busy street and between busses.
We ask that you tell your children to cross the streets at the crosswalks.
We ask the students to walk, not run.
These procedures are for the safety of our students and need to be followed to avoid an accident. The items listed above seem to be common sense, but I have observed, first hand, every one of these procedures being broken. Therefore, we urge motorists to use extra caution when driving in school zones. Watch for children, slow down and pay attention to school bus traffic and signs.