Bus drivers wish others would think about safety
A school bus driver’s job is to get students from home to school and back safely.
That’s not easy when other drivers don’t heed rules of the road or the extended stop arm on the bus.
Centre, Goessel, and Marion-Florence schools took part in an April 19 state survey of drivers illegally passing stopped school buses. Bus drivers in the 18-county north central Kansas region reported 31 violations on that date, most taking place during afternoon hours. A majority involved drivers passing a bus while approaching in the opposite lane.
People driving along the roadway where a bus is stopped should heed when the stop arm is extended, Diana Schmidt, Goessel bus driver for 30 years, said.
“We don’t have a lot of trouble with that, but we see it a lot on K-15 or US-56,” Schmidt said. “I think people are in such a hurry anymore or they’re not paying attention.”
Marion driver John Mulvenon said he sees few drivers passing a stopped bus on his Florence-to-Marion route, but sees many drivers who are simply inattentive or uncaring.
He wishes drivers would be aware of, and obey, the speed limit.
He also wishes they would pay attention to the road instead of texting, reading, or talking on the cell phone.
“It annoys me to no end to see people with a book or a newspaper on their steering wheel,” Mulvenon said. “That’s distracted driving. It’s no different from drinking and driving. A school bus has pretty precious cargo.”
Distraction is a problem for both drivers and pedestrians, Safe Kids Kansas spokeswoman Cherie Sage said.
“If your student is walking or biking to school, be sure to stress the importance of putting electronic devices away, especially before crossing busy streets or navigating traffic in parking lots,” Sage said. “And, adults need to follow our own advice. Give the road your full attention so you can watch for school zones and kids biking and walking to school.”
Schmidt described an incident several years ago where students came onto the road before the bus had made a complete stop and were struck by a car. Although she wasn’t driving that bus, she wishes students would remember to wait beside the road until the bus is fully stopped.
Schmidt warns children to look for traffic before crossing the road and cross well in front of the bus so she can see them. She also tells them if they drop something, don’t go back for it. Wait until the bus leaves and see if it’s still there, she said.
“Be aware of your surroundings,” Mulvenon said.
When weather is bad, he reminds them more often to be cautious.
“I’ve seen children fall down. I’ve never had one of them get injured,” Mulvenon said. “When the weather is inclement, we’ll sometimes get down out of the bus and help them.”
Sage had several recommendations for parents to reinforce with their school-age children:
- Put devices down while boarding or exiting a bus, and while crossing a street.
- Practice bus stop safety by walking to the bus stop and waiting for the bus along with students. Make sure they board the bus one at a time.
- Make sure children riding in carpools each have an appropriate car seat, booster seat or safety belt.
- Obey all traffic signals.
Last modified Aug. 30, 2017