Maine Schools Join Others Around the Nation to Recognize 2021 National School Bus Safety Week October 18-22

3 color drawings of school buses showing safety measures for drivers2021 National School Bus Safety Week Theme Be Safe – Know The Danger Zone is derived from the Poster Contest the year before. The 2020 winning poster artwork, depicted above, was drawn by Huyen Pham, a Northbrook Middle School student from Atlanta, Georgia.

Nationally, each year from September to November, public service announcements are aired to help protect 26 million students that ride on nearly 500,000 school buses over 4 billion miles in an average year.  Broadcast and digital media and social networking industries disseminate public service announcements that are produced to safeguard children, encourage the driving public to engage in safer driving behavior near school buses where students board and disembark from school buses, and recognize school bus operators and professionals.

Statewide, nearly 130 thousand students ride on about 3,000 school buses over 30 million miles of rural and urban roads in an average year. School Bus Safety Week offers the people of Maine an opportunity to recognize and thank transportation and public safety professionals, who have the invaluable task of keeping their precious cargo, our students, safe.

School buses are protected by law. Laws protect students who are getting off and on a school bus by making it illegal for drivers to pass a school bus while dropping off or picking up passengers, regardless of the direction of approach. Maine school bus safety laws support good driving behavior. These laws 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 30-day license suspension for the second offense occurring within three years of the first offense.
  • A vehicle may not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or until signaled by the bus operator that it is okay to proceed.
  • 2021 model year and newer school buses are required to have a crossing arm on the front bumper.
  • A school bus operator who observes someone illegally passing a stopped school bus can report violations to a law enforcement officer.
  • School buses are required to stop at railroad crossings.
  • Unless otherwise posted, the school zone speed limit is 15 miles per hour during school opening or closing hours, as well as recess.

Additional school bus safety resources are available online:

For information about school transportation programs and policy contact Transportation and Facilities Administrator Pat Hinckley at pat.hinckley@maine.gov.

If you have an interest in joining this critically important profession, please reach out to your area schools to learn more, and please thank and support these heroes on the road!

The National School Bus Safety Week public education program is hosted by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS), National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT), and National School Transportation Association (NSTA).