Protecting school bus riders
Safety tips for students, motorists
By Holly Neumann
With the school year approaching, drivers should be aware that school buses will be back on the road.
Kobussen Buses Ltd. transports students in the Iola-Scandinavia and Manawa school districts.
“Although school buses are a common sight almost everywhere in the state, motorists should always remember that they are still a large commercial vehicle,” said Dan Kobussen, owner of Kobussen Buses. “They do not stop, or turn like a family vehicle and the bus drivers have to depend on their mirrors to see all around the bus.”
Drivers are reminded to stay a safe distance from the bus and to never crowd one.
“There is a 10 foot danger zone around a bus, where a bus driver may have blind spots, so always stay more than 10 feet away,” said Kobussen. “Remember if you can’t see the bus driver’s mirrors, the bus driver probably can’t see you.”
Buses have flashing yellow and red lights.
“The flashing yellow warning lights on the top part of the bus indicate that the bus is coming to a stop to load or unload students,” said Kobussen.“ At no time should a motorist try to ‘beat the lights’ when they see the yellow lights turned on. This should be a warning to everyone to look out for children. Even in the afternoon when you would think that all the children are on the bus, there still may be younger siblings or pets of the student riding the bus waiting excitedly for a student to arrive home.”
When the bus comes to a stop, its red lights activate, and the stop sign on the side of the bus will be deployed.
“When the stop sign on a school bus is deployed and its red lights are on you cannot pass a bus legally, regardless of whether you see children or not. Passing the bus can result in a heavy fine and loss of points,” Kobussen said. “Motorists should be no closer than 20 feet from the rear of the bus or 20 feet from the front of the bus if approaching the bus from the opposite direction. Even ambulances and fire trucks are required to stop.”
Motorists need to wait for the red lights of the bus to be turned off, before proceeding.
Safety tips for riders
“The biggest single thing a child on a school bus can do in regards to safety is to remain seated at all times that the bus is in motion,” said Kobussen. “Actions that distract the driver, such as yelling, horseplay or throwing objects also need to be avoided.”
Riders should also follow the driver’s instructions when on the bus.
“Complying with the drivers expectations makes the ride more enjoyable for everyone,” he said. “Per passenger mile, school buses are the safest form of transportation in the world. However we need the cooperation of the children we transport to continue this amazing safety record.”
Children should also use caution around buses as well.
“As much as we try to run our routes where students do not have to cross the road, it is sometimes unavoidable,” said Kobussen. “For students who cross, they should always wait for the drivers to signal them it is ok before they cross the road. They should walk in an orderly fashion directly to and from the bus and at no time should a student ever cross the roadway behind the school bus.”
Children should arrive at their bus stop five minutes prior to their scheduled pick-up time.
“This is especially important at the beginning of the school year, as routes are new and the timing may be somewhat off,” said Kobussen.
The Manawa and Iola Scandinavia School Districts can expect a yellow postcard in the mail with student busing information. Families who have not received the postcard by Aug. 20 or if the information is incorrect should call the Kobussen location in Manawa at 920-389-1500.