Carthage ISD officials voice safety concerns and urge drivers to be careful around school buses after inattentive driver crashed and nearly collided with students getting off a bus in Texas 315.
The incident, which happened on November 8, was captured by one of the school bus’s video cameras and shows the car speeding into a ditch and rolling seconds after the children exited the bus.
“He never braked,” said executive director of transportation and operations Renee Risinger. “There was no sign of skidding.”
Acting Superintendent Jim Dunlap showed the video at Monday’s school board meeting, with administrators and guests panting in shock. He said the car missed one of the children by about three feet. No serious injuries have been reported, Dunlap said.
“The cars were stopped in the left lane. If he had gone to the left he would have hit the cars parked for the bus head-on,” Dunlap said. “He wasn’t paying attention, swerved to the right and narrowly missed this child. It’s a video that forces all of us to be very careful and watchful at bus stops.”
Administrator Truman Shirey told Dunlap he had received numerous reports of law-breaking cars around school buses, such as driving past school buses when their lights were on and that by law drivers had to stop. Risinger said they see violations every day.
“In the morning we have the Sheriff’s Department, they pick us up on (US) 79 and they follow our bus, literally, until we get into Oiltop Road. But while we’re on 79, they follow the bus, and every morning they write tickets, ”she said.
Risinger said the DPS has now dispatched more officers to Texas 315 after seeing the November 8 video, but the district is also asking for help on US 59.
“We keep a daily count, morning and afternoon, of the number of reports that our lights have been on,” she said. “If I gave you an estimate right away, you’d probably all sit in your chairs and gasp like you did when you watched the video because it’s serious.”
Safety tips for school buses
The Texas Department of Public publishes safety tips for school buses each year at the start of school and for Safety National School Bus Safety Week, which is observed in October.
“School buses are the safest mode of transportation for children to get to school, and drivers should do simple but crucial things like not overtake a school bus or be careful when seeing a bus. , to keep it that way, ”said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “By avoiding rushing school buses and always looking for children, you might be able to save a life. “
DPS offers the following tips for school bus safety:
Children should limit what they wear and stick to what fits in their backpack. This reduces the risk of dropping objects on the road on the way to the bus stop.
Children should arrive at the bus stop five minutes early so that they do not make unsafe choices to reach the bus on time, such as running to the bus, crossing the street illegally, chasing the bus, or run ahead.
Parents should accompany children to the bus stop if possible. Otherwise, encourage them to walk to the bus stop with other children so that they are more visible to drivers.
Make sure children know how to look both ways before crossing the streets. Also, teach children to watch out for vehicles coming out of nearby driveways.
When a child gets off the bus and has to cross the street, make sure they don’t assume that traffic will stop for them just because a bus has its stop arm extended and the lights are flashing. . Always look both ways before crossing.
If an adult meets a child when getting off the bus, always stand on the street side of the bus, so the child does not have to cross the street alone.
If a child drops something while getting on or off the bus, they should never pick it up. The child should inform the driver, then wait for instructions on what to do.
Children should not stand or play in the street while waiting for the bus. It is dangerous and other drivers may not see them.
It is safer if the children stay three giant steps from the road until the bus arrives. When children walk in front of the bus, they should stay about 10 feet from the hood of the bus to ensure the driver can see them.
Children should not shout on the bus or run around, as this can distract the driver.
When drivers see a school bus on the road, they should always give them plenty of room, knowing that they are stopping frequently.
Drivers should be careful around level crossings. School buses are legally required to stop there.
Drivers should reduce their speed when they see a school bus and know that children may enter the road unexpectedly without checking traffic.
Drivers must also supervise children. While children should be vigilant, it is also up to drivers to be careful, as students can be distracted while looking at mobile devices, talking to friends, or not looking at traffic.
Drivers should stop if a bus has flashing lights and its stop sign, regardless of which direction a bus is heading. Drivers are allowed to continue once the bus is in motion, the flashing lights have stopped, or the driver signals you to continue. Approaching drivers do not have to stop for a school bus that activates a visual signal if the road is separated by a physical barrier or intermediate space, such as a divided median. If the highway is only divided by a left turn lane, it is not considered divided and drivers must stop for school buses.
It is illegal to pass a stopped school bus and can result in a fine of up to $ 1,250 for a first offense. For those convicted of the offense more than once, the law allows the person’s driver’s license to be suspended for up to six months. A ticket for this offense cannot be dismissed for defensive driving. Criminal prosecution is possible if a driver causes serious bodily harm to someone.