SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Enhancing the safety of every child’s journey to and from school is the focus of National School Bus Safety Week, October 16-20. With the school year in full swing, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) is reminding the public that school bus safety is a two-way street – a responsibility shared by professional school bus drivers and every motorist on California’s roadways.
On average, 65,000 certified school bus drivers transport more than 1 million students each year in California, traveling approximately 200 million miles. The CHP’s goal is to ensure that each student’s commute is not only efficient but, above all, safe.
“Riding in a school bus is one of the safest ways for kids to travel to and from school,” said CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee. “Not only are California’s school bus drivers expected to meet high standards, but the CHP takes great pride in inspecting school buses to certify they are one of the safest vehicles on the road.”
The CHP partners with the California Department of Motor Vehicles and the California Department of Education to ensure the state’s school bus drivers meet the strict criteria for operating a school bus. This certification process ensures only the most qualified and properly trained drivers are permitted to transport students in California.
The CHP is also responsible for inspecting California’s more than 22,000 school buses at least once every 13 months to determine if the vehicle complies with requirements for design, construction, color, and equipment. If it is not certified, it cannot transport students.
Motorists should prioritize the safety of school children when sharing the road with school buses. Here are a few essential school bus safety tips:
- Stop for School Buses: With few exceptions, California law requires drivers to stop in both directions when a school bus has flashing red lights on. Drivers must stop until the red lights are off, and school bus drivers are trained to only turn their flashing red lights off when they are certain the children are safely out of the road and seated on the bus.
- Maintain a Safe Following Distance: Keep a safe distance when driving behind a school bus to allow ample braking distance in case the bus stops suddenly.
- Watch for Children: Be extra vigilant for children around school buses. Kids may dart out in the street unexpectedly, so always be prepared to stop.
- Be Patient: School buses make frequent stops, and they might take longer to get going again. Exercise patience and resist the urge to pass a stopped school bus.
By following these school bus safety tips, motorists in California can contribute to the safety of school children and help reduce the risk of collisions and injuries around school buses and in school zones. Remember that safety should always be a top priority when driving, especially when children are present.
This mission of the CHP is to provide the highest level of Safety, Service, and Security.