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Sandy Garrett's Column

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On any given school day, more than 369,000 children in Oklahoma ride to and from school on yellow buses that together travel 67 million miles each year. With so many miles to cover and thousands of boys and girls to transport safely, practicing school bus safety is a must at all times.

It’s one reason we observe National School Bus Safety Week each fall. This year, October 19-23, “Avoid Harm, Obey the Arm” is the national theme to stress the need for drivers to obey the rules of the road and for students to follow safety rules.

Motorists, parents and students alike are reminded that:
• Yellow lights will flash when a school bus is preparing to stop.
• Red lights will flash and a red stop sign arm will unfold from the side
of the bus when cars must stop because a bus is loading or unloading.
• Never pass on the right side of a bus where children board. It is also
illegal for motorists to pass a school bus that is stopped.
• Motorists may proceed only after the red lights have stopped flashing,
the stop sign arm has been folded up and the bus moves.
• When the bus approaches, students should stand at least three giant
steps (6 feet) away from the curb, and line up away from the street. Also:
1. They may board only after the bus stops, the door opens, and the
driver says it’s okay to step onto the bus.
2. They should never walk behind the bus but rather several feet in front
where the driver can see them.
3. If something is dropped near the bus, children should tell the bus
driver and only retrieve the item if the driver can see them.

The school bus continues to be the safest form of transportation to and from school. In fact, it is eight times safer than passenger vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In a 2002 report by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies for Science (NAS), children were found to be at more risk traveling in private passenger vehicles to and from school – especially if a teenage driver is involved – than in school buses.

The most dangerous part of the bus ride is when students load and unload from the bus. So please review safety rules with your children. Together – students, parents and communities – we can help ensure a safe and secure ride to school for boys and girls.

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