For 1.5 million Texas students, each school day begins and ends with a ride on a bus. And for every one of them, most dangerous part of that round trip comes when they must cross a street before boarding or after departing from the bus. Passing motorists continue to pose the greatest threat to school bus safety, so schools throughout the nation are observing School Bus Safety Week Oct. 21-27.

The Texas Department of Public Safety reports that no students were killed in the state during the 2006-2007 school year. Safety and awareness programs are apparently working, so this is not a time to let down our guard.

Texas state law requires drivers to stop for school buses that are stopped and have activated their alternating red flashing lights. The DPS reminds drivers that they should not proceed until the school bus resumes motion, until the driver is signaled by the bus driver to proceed or until the visual signal is no longer activated.

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.

Motorists who do not stop are endangering a very precious resource, our children, and DPS Director Col. Thomas A. Davis Jr. said in a press release that those drivers will face fines of up to $1,000, plus court costs, if they are convicted.

This year’s safety week theme is “Stop on Red, Kids Ahead,” and it’s a reminder that drivers should heed not only during a special week’s observance, but also throughout the school year.

While urging motorists to be aware of stops school buses may be making on the roads and highways they share, School Bus Safety Week also recognizes the hard work and dedication of school transportation professionals. The recognition goes especially to school bus drivers, whose job is to ensure a safe journey for students every day.

School buses remain one of the safest modes of transportation in Texas, according to the DPS. School buses account for less than one-half of one percent of all Texas roadway crashes. That’s good, because they are carrying some very precious cargo, and motorists need to remember that as they rush from place to place.

Brownwood Bulletin