Police urge caution around school buses

Published 9:48am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Albert Lea Police Department wants motorists to drive attentively and be ready for school buses, especially for children exiting school buses.

The Albert Lea Police Department reminds motorists to anticipate children, especially in a school bus “danger zone” — the area around a bus where most injuries and deaths occur. Officials ask parents to discuss and demonstrate pedestrian safety with their children and reinforce safe crossing after exiting a bus.

“School buses are very safe, but once a child exits the bus, we want them to know how important it is to be aware of their surroundings,” Lt. Jeff Strom said. “That same message goes for motorists — if you come up on a school bus, you need be paying attention and take extreme caution for exiting children.”

Last year in Minnesota, there were 553 bus crashes that resulted in seven deaths (none of which were student bus occupants) and 211 injuries (of which 65 were student bus occupants). In Minnesota, school buses make at least 10,000 school bus trips daily.

School buses are the safest mode of transportation for children — children are eight times safer riding in a bus to school than any other vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In Minnesota, motorists must stop for red flashing lights and when stop arms are extended — both when driving behind a bus and when coming toward a bus on undivided roads.

The Albert Lea Police Department offers these tips for pedestrians and motorists, and for parents to review with their school-age children:

 

Schoolchildren:

• When getting off a bus, look to be sure no vehicles are passing on the shoulder (side of the road).

• Before crossing the street, take five giant steps out from the front of the bus, and make eye contact with the driver.

• Wait for the driver to signal that it’s safe to cross.

• Look left-right-left when coming to the edge of the bus to make sure traffic is stopped. Keep watching traffic when crossing.

 

Pedestrians:

• Cross only at intersections or crosswalks and obey all traffic signs and signals

• Make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you and clearly show intention to cross.

• Do not enter a crosswalk if a vehicle is too close or moving too fast to stop safely.

• Continue to look for traffic as you cross; as distracted drivers are not looking for pedestrians.

 

Motorists:

• Motorists must stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights and/or its stop arm is extended when approaching from the rear and from the opposite direction on undivided roads.

• Red flashing lights on buses indicate students are either entering or exiting the bus.

• Motorists are not required to stop for a bus if the bus is on the opposite side of a separated roadway (median, etc.) — but they should remain alert for children.

• Altering a route or schedule to avoid a bus is one way motorists can help improve safety. In doing so, motorists won’t find themselves behind a bus and as a result, potentially putting children at risk.

• Watch for school crossing patrols and pedestrians. Reduce speeds in and around school zones.

• Watch and stop for pedestrians — the law applies to all street corners, for both marked and unmarked crosswalks (all street corners) — every corner is a crosswalk.

The Albert Lea Police Department has a cable access show called “ALPD 24/7” on school bus safety. The show can be found on Charter Communications cable channel 16 in Albert Lea or on YouTube at www.youtube.com/cityofalbertlea.