SAN ANGELO, Texas (Concho Valley Homepage) — With National School Bus Safety Week being observed from Oct. 16 to Oct. 20, local officials have sought to remind the public about helpful school bus safety practices for parents, students and other locals from around the Concho Valley to keep in mind.

The Texas Department of Public Safety says when a school bus’ lights flash and it stops, cars must stop in both directions except when there’s a road median and protective barriers.
The DPS also says that distracted driving, speeding and even construction zones can all pose a risk for potential accidents.

“The most dangerous times for a child is when they get on and off the bus,” Justin Baker, a Texas DPS media and communications worker and safety educator, said. “Although the bus is one of the safest vehicles on the roadway, it can be one of those situations with when they’re getting on that bus that if they’re not doing it responsibly, or the expectations of the traffic around not following with the law as it’s clearly stated, children can be a very dangerous situation.”

Baker said that doing a Grape Creek bus ride along this week was eye-opening for him and some troopers.
“We were up here at 5:30 a.m. in the morning, we’re on these buses, we’re going around to different bus stops and it’s dark,” Baker said. “It was one of those things like, ‘Man, if anybody makes a mistake, it could cost a life.’ That’s what this week is about, we got to make sure we remind motorists about the different things that pertain to bus safety and make sure they’re going out there and doing it the right way.”

San Angelo ISD says when it comes to buses and safety, nine buses have recently been approved for purchase, hiring CDL drivers has been going well due to a recent salary increase, and “smart tag” student IDs have been a helpful tool in keeping young bus riders safe.

“{A smart tag ID} allows every student that gets on or off of a school bus to have a photo ID,” Merl Brandon, SAISD’s assistant superintendent of business services, said. “It only registers the technology is on and off the bus, and it can’t be tracked outside of the bus. It helps us in ensuring that every child is getting on and off, not only the right bus but at the right stop.”

SAISD also says a common accident with school buses is rear-end collisions and reminds the public that it’s important to keep your eyes on the road.

“We want to avoid the sense of anonymity in our driving where we feel like it’s ‘my time, my bubble, and nothing else pertains to me,'” Baker said. “We have to understand again that we’re sharing the road with many different vehicles and even pedestrians and bicycles, motorcycles. We need to drive courteously and be mindful of all the laws that pertain to all those different scenarios.”

The National Association for Pupil Transportation says more than 25 million children ride a school bus every day.