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Schools to participate in Bus Safety Week

Published 11:25pm Friday, October 19, 2012

Chilton County schools will join others around the country in recognizing the 2012 National School Bus Safety Week on Oct. 22–26.

Schools will provide educational information and activities for kindergarten students to introduce them to bus safety and the importance of being cautious in and around school buses.

According to Chilton County Schools Transportation Supervisor Jason Griffin, Chilton County schools have almost 100 school bus routes running every morning and afternoon Monday through Friday, as well as bus routes for extracurricular trips such as field trips, athletic events, academic competitions and other activities.

Also, several buses transport students from every high school to LeCroy Career Tech Center each day.

“Our safety record is impeccable,” Griffin said of the county’s school bus system. “I think it’s only through the grace of God and prayer that it is so good because we’re putting a lot of miles and a lot of students on the road every day.”

Griffin commended his bus drivers on their safe driving records; his mechanics at the Chilton County Bus Shop for being recognized by the Alabama State Department of Education as “excellent” on school bus inspections; and the community for making him aware of any safety issues pertaining to the buses.

“Our bus shop is in the top 10 percent of all the maintenance shops in the state,” Griffin said. “They do a wonderful job, and our drivers do an impeccable job. They are overly conscious of safety.”

Twice a year, every school in Chilton County holds bus evacuation drills, which are required and separate from School Bus Safety Week.

Effective since Oct. 1, 2006, Alabama’s new school bus stop law requires all traffic from both directions on a two-lane roadway to stop when school buses stop for passengers, and there are rules to ensure safety in other situations, according to an Alabama Department of Public Safety news release.

Traffic from both directions must also stop for school buses on: roadways with two lanes and a center turning lane; roadways with four or more lanes and a center turning lane; and roadways with four lanes and no median separation, the release said.

However, the rule differs for traffic on roadways with four or more lanes that have a median separation. On such highways, only traffic following a school bus must stop. Traffic traveling in the opposite direction should continue moving.

According to the Alabama Department of Education, most student fatalities occur outside the bus during loading and unloading, and the younger the child is, the more vulnerable he or she is to be killed outside the school bus.

The afternoon school bus trip is twice as dangerous as the morning school bus trip, the release said.

“The main thing is the speed of the motorists on the highway,” Griffin said. “Most of our main highways … are extremely well-traveled roads, and there are motorists who speed through there.”

Griffin cited a major wreck that occurred last year in Chilton County between a vehicle and a school bus, with the driver of the vehicle hitting the bus.

No one was injured, Griffin said, but not all accidents involving buses in the state end that way.

In 2011, there were 546 crashes, 268 injuries and five fatalities involving school buses in Alabama.

“During School Bus Safety Week, we want to inform the citizens of our county about our pupil transportation program,” Griffin said. “We are also asking for their cooperation in helping us to maintain or even improve our safety record. As motorists, please be aware and careful in and around buses. Only with their help can we continue to provide a safe bus ride and protect the children of Chilton County.”

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