The Kanawha County Schools transportation staff had its annual Safety Awareness Day at Charleston’s Laidley Field on Friday to remind the community about school bus safety issues that come up every back-to-school season.
“This is just a matter of promoting safety and making the public aware that we’re getting ready to start school and sharing all the information with the students, as well,” said Brette Fraley, the executive director of transportation for the school system.
The safety awareness event showcased some new features on Kanawha school buses, as well as a new activity bus, which Piedmont Elementary students boarded to watch a video on school bus safety.
“The most dangerous time for students to ride the school bus is getting on and getting off,” Fraley said, “but we do have the safety features on the buses used in the county to share with the students.”
After watching the safety video, the children participated in a demonstration by “Buster the Bus” and were reminded to not walk in the danger zone, wait for the bus driver to indicate when they are clear to walk across the street and follow instructions on proper activity while on the bus.
The latest safety features on Kanawha school buses are the new AT&T FirstNet communication systems, which can reach areas of the county that radio and cellphones cannot, a 12-camera system with monitors and a fogmaker fire-suppression system, as well as a safety bus, with danger zones displayed, and a new KCS activity bus, which was purchased last year.
“The latest safety features we have are our 12-camera system,” Fraley said. “We look at the illegal passing surveys that take place every year, and we continue to see more and more illegal passes on the right-hand side of the bus, or the door side. If that happens, we want to make sure we catch that information and give it to law enforcement.”
Guardian angel lights also were added to the front of all the buses so students can be seen in the morning when it’s dark, said Fraley.
Some safety precautions Fraley urged drivers to take are:
- Slow down when the bus has yellow flashing lights.
- Stop and wait at least 20 feet behind the bus when it has flashing red lights.
- Watch for children, particularly in the morning and mid-afternoon, even when the bus lights aren’t flashing.
“The bus will activate its lights, the yellow lights, 200 feet before it stops,” he said. “So, if they’re activated yellow, you should be aware that the bus is going to stop, that there’s kids in the area and you really need to be paying attention.”