Bus safety a top concern


August 25, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Bill King, director of Public Works for Allen County, got a call the other day from a parent who wanted him to erect a “School Bus Stop Ahead” sign along a county road to alert motorists.
The caller insisted it was important for motorists to know exactly where a bus stopped twice a day to pick up and deliver
children. After all, it is about a child’s safety, the parent said, and “you can’t put a price on that.”
No one would argue otherwise. It is a precious cargo that school buses carry.
Protocols are in place for determining where signs are put up. Foremost is a request from one of the school districts that send buses daily to ferry kids.
Beverly Flack, who has monitored school bus routes for USD 257 for years, never has had a parent make a request for signage, she told the Register Tuesday. In large measure that’s because places where buses stop are visible and well-known.
The local district dispatches buses to pick up students at about 100 points, including several in Gas and LaHarpe. Safety always is at the forefront when routes are laid out.
Flack said pick-up points were arranged so that drivers had unobstructed views of traffic approaching from front and back. Drivers also pull to the sides of roads or streets and position buses so their bulk is a natural barrier between kids and motorists.
Bus drivers are trained to watch closely to prevent an accident occurring when a child emerges from in front of a bus to cross a road or street. Safety is the No. 1 concern.
When a bus stops, flashing lights and signs make it abundantly clear to motorists that they are required — they should do so without any overt admonition — to stop and remain stopped while pickups and discharges are being made.
USD 257 buses, from a pragmatic view, follow routes that permit them to a make as few stops as possible — kids congregate at some — which is a safety advantage and also makes daily journeys more energy efficient.

— Bob Johnson

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