(WTVM) - It is a priority year-round, but school bus safety is particularly important during the school year, when motorists come into contact with school buses on a daily basis.
This year, School Bus Safety Week is Oct. 22 to 26, and the Alabama Department of Public Safety is partnering with the Alabama Department of Education to remind motorists of the law and what is required in an effort to prevent crashes, injuries and fatalities. In 2011, there were 546 crashes, 268 injuries and five fatalities involving school buses in Alabama.
Motorists may be aware that the law requires all traffic from both directions on a two-lane roadway to stop when school buses stop for passengers, but there also are rules to ensure safety in other situations.
Traffic from both directions must also stop for school buses on:
• Roadways with two lanes and a center turning lane
• Roadways with four or more lanes and a center turning lane
• Roadways with four lanes and no median separation
The rule, however, differs for traffic on roadways with four or more lanes that have a median separation. On such highways, only traffic following a school bus must stop. Traffic traveling in the opposite direction should continue moving.
According to the Alabama Department of Education, most student fatalities occur outside the bus during loading/unloading, and the younger the child is, the more vulnerable he or she is to be killed outside the school bus. It also is important to note that the afternoon school bus trip is twice as dangerous as the morning school bus trip.
To speak with an Alabama State Trooper, please call 334.242.4445.