As a new school approaches for hundreds of thousands of Kentucky schoolchildren, motorists will soon start seeing reminders across the state to watch out for stopped school buses. “It’s not JUST a stop sign, it’s a child’s life.”
“It is paramount that our children arrive at school and back home safely each day,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt. “While stopping for a school bus might be a minor inconvenience for drivers, it could be a matter of life or death for a child. I call on all Kentuckians to be especially cautious around school buses, not just at the beginning of the school year, but anytime they approach these big yellow vehicles.”
According to the annual National School Bus Loading and Unloading Survey, 75 percent of the school bus-related fatalities occurred when a student was hit by a passing vehicle during the 2014-15 year.
While Kentucky has not recorded any such fatalities, bus drivers often see drivers illegally passing their buses as children attempt to get on and off the bus. In a survey by the National Association of the State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services of more than 96,000 school bus drivers in 33 states, drivers recorded 74,421 vehicles illegally passing a stopped school bus.
In Kentucky, it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus in either direction on a two-lane road if the warning lights on the bus are on. School bus drivers use a “flashing signal light system” to alert motorists of pending actions:
- Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
- Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped, and that children are getting on or off the bus. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start moving again.