Troopers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) are in the midst of promoting school bus safety this week — which is a national effort.
OSHP Wapakoneta Post troopers are currently participating in the National School Bus Safety week, which runs until Friday.
The theme for this year is, “I see the driver. The driver sees me.” This theme reminds children to look both ways and wait for the go ahead from the bus driver before crossing the roadway.
“While school buses remain the safest mode of travel on Ohio roadways, school bus crashes still occur,” OSHP Superintendent Col. John Born said. “In order to make this school year safe, we need motorists to be patient and never pass a stopped school bus and for children to always wait for their bus driver to signal it is safe tho cross the roadway.”
Throughout the week, troopers across the state of Ohio will be highly visible and enforcing the law in and around school zones.
Wapakoneta Post Sgt. Brian Jordan said troopers will be out and about during the mornings and afternoons and following the area school buses on their routes.
Jordan noted that the OSHP has received three complaints so far this 2012-13 school year in Auglaize County, from either school bus drivers or witnesses.
A complaint is when a bus driver calls in a license plate number and notes the violation that they witnessed another vehicle do, whether it be passing the school bus or not abiding to the red flashing lights.
Jordan noted that most of the citations are with motorists failing to yield the right of way for school buses and continuing to pass despite activated lights or extended stop signs.
“If their description is good and their complaint is valid, the citation will be issued,” Jordan said.
A trooper does not have to be a witness when a complaint is valid.
The greatest risk to children occurs outside the school bus, as injuries and fatalities result from motorists who attempt to pass a stopped school bus. Ohio law requires motorists approaching from either direction of a stopped school bus to stop at least 10 feet from a bus loading or unloading passengers.
If a school bus is stopped on a road divided into four or more lanes, only traffic driving in the same direction as the bus must stop.
Last school year, 2011-12, the Wapakoneta Post received eight school bus complaints.
“The penalties for a person passing a school bus are a mandatory appearance in the proper court to answer to the charge, up to a $500 fine and they could face a license suspension, and it could be up to a year suspension,” Jordan said.
Not only are troopers assigned to school zones and assigned to follow school buses on their routes this week, but the OSHP motor vehicle inspection team will be working with transportation superintendents in each school district in the county.
This week serves as a national awareness week to promote the safety of children.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Jordan said. “Safety of the kids.”
He noted that many kids either walk or ride the bus to school, so both buses and vehicles traveling need to be cautious.
“You need to be aware around school buses and pay attention to signage and the kid who may run across the road without being waved on by the driver,” Jordan said.
It is important to be aware of all traffic while getting on a school bus.