School bus

When a school bus has its stop arm out and the stop sign lights are flashing, cars should not pass the bus until the sign and arm are folded back.

With school buses taking children to and from school, it’s important everyone, not just children and drivers, know the rules of school bus safety.

Everyone needs to learn school bus safety, from the students to their parents to their teachers to other drivers on the road, Daryl Heimer, Forest City Community School District transportation director, said.

“These are everybody’s kids that we’re talking about," he said, "and as drivers we do the best that we can to make sure that everybody gets to and from school safely,” 

West Hancock Community School District transportation director Stacy Goepel said the biggest issue with school bus safety is other drivers not watching when the bus is stopped.

“Although we live in and around the small communities of Britt and Kanawha, we still have problems with drivers not paying attention and driving around a stopped school bus that is unloading or loading children,” he said. “When a bus is stopped with the stop arm extended, amber lights flashing and a vehicle drives around it, this is always a major safety concern.

"A child can be seriously hurt or even killed with a passing car going around a stopped school bus.”

According to Heimer and Goepel, some of the most important school bus safety rules are:

• Kids stay at least 10 feet away from the bus at all times except for loading and unloading.

• Children that misbehave distract the bus driver while driving, making it unsafe for them and other drivers.

• Kids need to stay seated in their seats while the bus is moving.

• Keep head, hands and arms inside the bus at all times.

• No yelling or loud voices.

• Listen to the bus driver.

• Keep the aisle clean and accessible for walking.

• Do not touch the emergency exit devices.

Heimer said FCCSD works to teach students about school bus safety by doing bus evacuation drills twice a year, which is state required, in all three buildings to teach kids what to do in case there is an accident and they need to evacuate the bus.

Additionally, Forest City Elementary School Principal Brad Jones talks with students in the fall after school starts talking about bus safety along with the evacuation drill, according to Heimer.

Drivers education in Forest City also talks about the laws and traffic rules regarding school buses, Heimer said.

Goepel said WHCSD teaches students bus safety in several ways, with going over bus safety rules in the classroom at the elementary school and having the State Patrol stop in from time to time to teach and speak to the younger students on bus safety.

Just like FCCSD, WHCSD does the fall and spring bus safety and emergency exit drills for all students from kindergarten to high school seniors, and Goepel said they just completed their drills early October for all their students.

“I feel West Hancock does a great job teaching students on bus safety and what is expected of them when riding the school bus,” Goepel said.

“Our bus drivers care about the kids and do a terrific job of keeping them safe,” Goepel said. “Not only do they drive a daily route, but many of them drive sporting events, field trips, band and chorus trips, etc. It is often a thankless job, and I appreciate each and every one of them for what they do for us here at West Hancock CSD.”

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