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Article on National School Bus Safety Week by State Superintendent Kathy Cox

 By  KATHY COX   State Superintendent of Schools      This week, I am proud to support National School Bus Safety Week (October 19 – 23), a time set aside each year to recognize the importance of following safety laws in order to protect children around our school buses.      I’d like to first recognize our bus drivers and technicians. Across the state of Georgia, school bus drivers transport more than one million students to and from school every day, with minimal incident. Statistically, there is no safer way for a student to travel than on a school bus. This is due in large part to the hard work and dedication of our bus drivers and technicians, and we should all take a moment this week to thank them for what they do.      I’d also like to thank parents and teachers, who have done an outstanding job educating their children regarding bus safety. And, certainly, the students, who follow the safety rules so well, ensuring they get to and from school so they can learn. The large majority of the population knows and follows school bus safety rules, and this allows for Georgia’s students to reach their schools safely every day.      The theme of this year’s National School Bus Safety Week is “Avoid Harm, Obey the Stop Arm.” It reminds us to pause this week and review the laws regarding school bus safety. I visit schools frequently and see many school buses. Unfortunately, there are some drivers who do not follow the rules to maintain safety around buses. Most accidents involving school buses occur not when students are on the bus, but with pedestrians around the bus. For this reason, it is important that all of us understand what to do when we see a school bus. Here are a few reminders:      Slow down in school zones. The speed limit is lower in these areas because when near a school, students are moving on and off the bus, being dropped off by their parents, or walking to the school. Slowing down in these zones gives drivers time to react.    Slow down for yellow flashing lights on school buses.    Stop for red flashing lights and the stop arm. I know it can be tempting to speed up when you see those flashing lights, but it is very dangerous to try passing it before it stops. The red lights mean students are getting on and off the bus. When drivers move too quickly and aren’t cautious, accidents can happen.    On a road with two-way traffic, cars traveling in both directions should stop, unless it is a divided highway with a median. Students may be crossing the road.    Finally, as we enter the winter months and prepare for the end of daylight savings time, more students will be waiting for the bus in the dark. Exercise extra caution, especially in the mornings.        During National School Bus Safety Week, I want to thank everyone who has a hand in providing safe transportation to Georgia’s students, especially our bus drivers and technicians. You have a direct impact on Georgia’s vision to “lead the nation in improving student achievement.”