Flashing red means kids ahead

HOPE – Safe driving when school buses begin to transport Hope Public Schools students to and from campuses Aug. 24 should be one more precaution taken by parents and other motorists for children going back to school.

“Student safety on and off the bus does not stop with bus drivers; every motorist has a responsibility,” Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said introducing the seventh annual “Flashing Red Kids Ahead” school bus safety campaign of the Arkansas Department of Education.

While fewer students in the Hope Public Schools will ride buses to and from school daily because of the Hope from Home Virtual Academy option offered by the district, HPS Facilities and Transportation Director Maurice Henry said students will be transported to campus daily either by bus or private vehicle.

“We will still have about a thousand students to transport both bus and parents,” Henry said. “During the first week of school, the transportation department will evaluate bus routes and adjust routes and times due to COVID-19.”

School buses are equipped with automatic safety arms which deploy each time a bus comes to a complete stop; and, red “Stop” signs with flashing signal lights embedded. Each time a bus slows to come to a stop, yellow “caution” lights on the bus will flash to warn motorists. Traffic from each direction should begin to slow to a complete stop once the caution lights activate.

A school bus will typically come to a full stop within 300 feet after the caution light activates.

“Bus safety is not just about COVID-19, even though we will disinfect buses between runs,” Henry said. “We will try to do everything we can to keep the students as safe as we can.”

He said bus drivers are directed to have children remain inside the bus until all front and rear approaching traffic has stopped. Motorists are also reminded they may not resume travel until the bus retracts both its safety arm and flashing “Stop” signal.

Drivers are instructed to remain stopped until all children have either boarded or exited the bus and cleared traffic lanes.

Motorists passing school buses that are stopped and loading or releasing children, or violating other school bus-related traffic safety laws face legal consequences.

“The number of instances of Arkansas motorists illegally passing school buses in one day is alarming,” Hutchinson said. “In addition to increased penalties passed by the legislature this past session, educational campaigns are essential to combating this problem.”

Parents may obtain more information about school bus safety at www.flashingredkidsahead.org online.

Questions regarding HPS student transportation should be directed to Henry’s office at 722-2700, extension 35.