WETHERSFIELD, CT - With National School Bus Safety Week underway, the state Department of Motor Vehicles wants to remind motorists to drive with caution around school buses and for students to always stay within the bus driver’s sight.
“I See the Driver, The Driver Sees Me!” is the theme of this year’s National School Bus Safety Week, which runs October 22-26, 2012.
DMV Commissioner Melody A. Currey said, “This week reminds us of the importance of school bus safety. There are actions that motorists must take – watch for children, slow down in school zones, pay attention to school bus traffic and always remember to stop on the red signal of a bus.”
State Rep. Antonio Guerrera, co-chairman of the state legislature’s Transportation Committee, said “As the House Chair of the Transportation Committee, I want to remind every motorist it is critical to pay attention and use caution when they see a school bus. When a school bus is stopped with its lights flashing that is when motorists need to pay extra attention because that is when students are exiting and entering the school bus.”
Commissioner Currey, State Rep. Guerrera, school transportation officials and members of the Wethersfield school system Tuesday marked National School Bus Safety Week at Hanmer Elementary School in Wethersfield.
As Connecticut highlights this week’s campaign, DMV continues its bus safety program that covers a variety of safety concerns ranging from testing and licensing to mechanical operation of school buses to the safe operation of vehicles around school buses.
In Connecticut, it is against state law to pass a stopped school bus with flashing red lights and the offense comes with a $465 fine. Parents and others also need to remember that they must observe the no-passing law when traveling near school buses in school driveways.
Drivers also undergo in-depth scrutiny of backgrounds of new and existing license holders. The Department conducts vigorous safety inspections of the buses, surprise inspections to double-check bus maintenance and record keeping and spot check enforcement of the state law requiring motorists to stop their vehicles when they approach a school bus with its red lights flashing.
Safety, however, also is the responsibility motorists, the Commissioner cautioned. For instance, motorists should:
• Watch for children traveling to school when driving in neighborhoods with school zones. Children are unpredictable in their actions, and it is motorists' responsibility to anticipate and prepare to react to what children may do.
• Drive slowly. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood.
• Watch for children playing and gathering near school bus stops.
Students and parents can also protect themselves by following some rules, too. They should familiarize themselves with and observe the following rules:
• Be at the bus stop at least 5 minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
• When the bus approaches, stand at least 10 feet away from the edge of the road, and line up away from the street.
• Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it is okay before stepping on the bus.