By Jane Ernsberger
Times-Junction News Editor
The Willard City Schools, along with schools throughout the state and country, are taking the week of Oct. 16 to stress and celebrate National School Bus Safety Week.
“This year’s theme, Stop on Red!, reminds students to be at their designated place of safety at bus stops,” said Michael Lillo, transportation director for the district. “Students need to cross where they can be seen by the bus driver, and they also need to watch for traffic.
“The greatest risk to our children is when they are outside the school bus,” he pointed out. “Student injuries and fatalities occur as a result of motorists who attempt to pass a stopped school bus with flashing red warning lights on while students load or unload.”
Almost 10,000 motorists illegally pass stopped school buses each day, Lillo noted. School buses travel approximately five million miles each year.
The Ohio Revised Code requires a motorist to stop for a school bus anytime it has stopped to load or unload. In Ohio, buses display flashing lights, as well as a stop sign on the side of the bus.
Motorists cannot resume motion until the school bus has started to move, according to the ORC. Bus drivers in Ohio are required to file reports with law enforcement agencies when a motorist passes them.
“Buses are really safe,” Lillo said. “There is no safer way to transport a child than in a school bus.”
Every school day, he added, 440,000 yellow school buses transport more than 24 million students to and from schools and school-related activities in the United States. School bus yellow is a color which was specially formulated for use on buses in the United States in 1939.
Lillo said parents can work with their children to remember the following:
- Always remain in direct eyesight of the bus driver;
- Get to the bus stop in plenty of time;
- Take 10 giant steps back from the curb while waiting for the bus and 10 steps when exiting the bus;
- Never try to get anything left on the bus after exiting;
- Never reach under the bus;
- Always follow the driver’s directions on how to cross the street;
- Be alert to traffic and look both ways, and
- Always cross in front of the school bus and only when the bus driver signals it is safe to do so.
Nearly one million Ohio students ride on school buses each day, Lillo pointed out. Nearly 15,000 bus drivers are dedicated to providing safe transportation for children in Ohio. National studies show school buses are the safest method of transporting young people and is 22 times safer than passenger cars.
In the Willard City Schools, mechanic Eric Cutlip has six years of service and mechanic Mike Billman has a decade of experience.
The average years of experience for bus drivers in the Willard City Schools is 11.7 years. Drivers and their years of experience include the following:
- Bus 10 - Diane Bivens 28 years;
- Bus 13 - Robin Ruckman 21 years;
- Bus 6 - Phillip McClish four years;
- Bus 19 - Rosalie Keesy 17 years;
- Bus 8 - Karen Sickel 16 years;
- Bus 9 - Kim Collins 10 years;
- Bus 17 - Karen Hill 10 years;
- Bus 15 - Robert Hamons 10 years;
- Bus 14 - Gary Robinson seven years, and
- Bus 20 - Dave Teglovic five years.
“Ensuring the safety of students as they enter and exit the bus is critical,” Lillo stressed. “We are training our bus drivers to be cautious, but we need help from parents to make sure they watch for school buses stopped to load and unload children. No issue is so urgent that a motorist cannot wait for a school bus.”