VWSD promotes school bus safety

Published 7:12 pm Monday, October 23, 2017

Fifty of the Vicksburg Warren School District’s buses have a new bit of decoration.

In honor of National Bus Safety Month, the VWSD buses have added a “Remember Nathan’s Law” license plate sign.

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Nathan’s Law was signed into law in Mississippi on July 1, 2011. The law is named after Nathan Key, a 5-year-old who was killed in Jones County in Dec. 2009 when a car illegally passed his school bus.

“That sign on the back says ‘Stop. Remember Nathan’s Law,’” Robert Bass, VWSD Transportation Director, said. “It makes people aware and tries to get them to slow down and be more observant when school buses are loading and unloading. This was at an unloading zone. It was actually at his (Nathan’s) bus stop where he was unloading off the bus and a car came around and killed him.”

Nathan’s Law requires all cars to stop at least 10 feet from a bus stopped for loading or unloading students. Cars are required to remain stopped until children have completed crossing the street and the bus retracts the stop sign and turns off its red flashing lights.

“Our buses normally activate the yellow light 100 feet before stopping,” Bass said. “That is to let the public know they are getting ready to either load or unload students. Once the bus comes to a stop, a red stop arm and the crossing arm are activated. That is letting traffic know that someone may be crossing the street or we are discharging or picking up kids at that particular spot.”

Bass said they perform required pre-trip checks every morning and afternoon to make sure all lights and equipment are working on the buses. He estimated between pickup and drop-off, more than 5,000 students ride VWSD buses every day.

“At their bus stop they should all wait in a single file until their bus comes to a complete stop whether they have to cross the road or not,” Bass said. “They should wait on the driver’s signal giving permission to load. Once they are loaded on the bus, they are to be seated before that bus begins to pull off. We are not to pull off while students are standing on the bus.”

As part of bus safety month, VWSD held a bus drivers’ appreciation lunch where they discussed safety and also had a bus safety demonstration at Warren Central Intermediate Friday.

One of the key points of staying staff at the bus stop is following the driver’s directions. It is the driver’s job to make sure the road is clear and to tell students when to load, unload and cross the street.

“It is very important for them to wait for the driver’s signal because that driver has checked for oncoming traffic, traffic behind him to make sure traffic is going to stop before they give the signal for those kids to either cross the street or load the bus,” Bass said. “It is very important for students to be on time at the bus stop and not be running trying to catch a bus if they are running late. It is very dangerous. They could be run over by the rear wheels.”

The driver will also let cars know when it is safe to move again by turning off the lights and retracting the stop sign and crossing arm.

“Once students have loaded or unloaded and the area around the bus is clear, the driver deactivates the stop arm and crossing arm, looks both ways to make sure traffic is clear before they pull off, once the stop arm is disengaged it is clear for the public to go,” Bass said.