Schools, governor recognize National School Bus Safety Week

Schools across the nation are recognizing 2012 National School Bus Safety Week, Oct. 22 through 26.

National School Bus Safety Week is a public education program designed to promote safety on and near the school bus. The theme for this year’s safety week is “I See the Driver. The Driver Sees Me.”

Governor Paul R. LePage marked this year’s Bus Driver Appreciation Day, which falls within the safety week, with a letter of appreciation to all Maine school bus drivers to acknowledge their importance to a student’s education.

Gov. LePage wrote that bus drivers complete the important task of operating vehicles responsible for carrying Maine’s children to and from school. The duties bus drivers carry out are integral to the daily process of educating children, and they follow the laws of the road to maximize the safety of those on-board, LePage wrote in the letter.

He also wrote that school bus drivers act as mentors and teachers, serving as upstanding examples of safety, courtesy, discipline and effective communication.

The focus of the National School Bus Safety Week’s public education program is a poster contest designed to help students and the public learn about bus safety. Winners are selected from each state and their posters are submitted for national awards. The safety poster art work is based on a different theme each year. The theme for the 2012 poster contest is “Stand Back from the Yellow and Black,” reminding students to be cautious when they cross the street.

In Maine, the safety week program culminates with a poster award ceremony at the Blaine House for students and their families. The ceremony is a time to celebrate safety, art and education.

School buses are designed and engineered for safety. Nearly every part of a bus has higher standards of safety when compared to ordinary cars. Consider the following safety features of school buses, which are not found on any other passenger vehicle:

  • School bus seats are above the crash line so that the impact of a vehicle colliding with a school bus hits beneath the seated passengers.
  • Passenger seating and crash protection establishes requirements for school bus seating systems.
  • A steel cage around the fuel tank provides bus fuel system integrity.
  • Emergency exits are provided by way of doors, windows and roof hatches.
  • Bus body joint strength specifies the minimum strength of the joints between panels of the bus body and the body structure.
  • Rollover protection specifies the minimum structural strength of buses in rollover-type crashes.

In addition to school bus safety design, school bus safety law supports good driving behavior through Maine Revised Statutes, Title 29-A, Chapter 19, Subchapter, Section 2308. Highlights of Maine law related to school bus safety are provided by the Maine Department of Transportation Flash Facts on school bus safety, which include:

  • Passing a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing is a criminal violation punishable by a $250 minimum fine for the first offense and a mandatory license suspension for the second offense.
  • A vehicle may not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or until signaled by the bus operator that it is OK to proceed.
  • A school bus operator who observes someone illegally passing a stopped school bus can report violations to a law enforcement officer.
  • Unless otherwise posted, the school zone speed limit is 15 miles per hour during school opening or closing hours, and recess.

The National School Bus Safety Week public education program is sponsored by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, National School Transportation Association, National Association for Pupil Transportation, Pupil Transportation Safety Institute and school bus manufacturers and suppliers.

Resources and more information