SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.-- --
With the beginning of the school year on the horizon, the 50th Space Wing Safety Office and childcare personnel are advocating Schriever Airmen be aware of school bus traffic rules as well as safety conditions of the season.
These include reduced speed limits in designated school zones, higher traffic flow around school areas during morning and evening hours and the increased presence of school buses, which come with their own set of safety rules.
The stop sign attached to a school bus acts as a legal stop sign in most cases for surrounding traffic. This includes drivers on a two-way undivided road for both traffic oncoming and behind the bus. Cars must stop their vehicle at least 20 feet before a school bus with its stop sign deployed and red lights flashing, and remain stopped until both are no longer in use.
The only exception to stopping for a school bus in Colorado is if the driver is approaching the bus from the opposite direction on a road with a painted line for turning or separated with a medium or other physical barrier; however, drivers are still required to use caution near the bus and understand variations in bus lights.
"Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children, motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles," said Master Sgt. Michael Hawkins, occupational safety manager with the 50th SW Safety Office. “Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off.”
Child Youth Program personnel advise parents and their children to familiarize themselves with their bus driver as well as learn their route and bus number to ensure there are no mistakes such as dropping children off or picking them up at the wrong bus stops.
“Make sure you get to know who your bus driver is,” said Gary Hernandez, Schriever School Age Care Program coordinator with the 50th Force Support Squadron. “Maintain proper communication with the driver. For example, let them know if your child will not be on the bus this week, so they are aware when they do an accountability check.”
Hawkins said although school buses are a statistically safer route for children to get to school as opposed to by car, it’s imperative each child knows what to do around buses.
“If your child must cross the street in front of the bus, tell him or her to walk on a sidewalk or along the side of the street to a place at least five giant steps, or 10 feet, in front of the bus before crossing,” he said. “Your child should also make eye contact with the bus driver before crossing to make sure the driver can see him or her.
“Children should never walk behind a school bus,” he added. “If your child drops something near the school bus, like a ball or book, the safest thing is for your child to tell the bus driver right away. Your child should not try to pick up the item, because the driver might not be able to see him or her.”
Gear such as reflective backpacks, helmets and shoes that light up provide extra protection for children.
Additionally, Hawkins advises parents to keep an eye out for children heading to and from school around bus stops and residential neighborhoods.
“When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school, if you are driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in neighborhood,” he said.
While taking care of Airmen and their families is a year round priority of the 50th Space Wing, Hawkins said all Airmen must remain diligent for the school season and recommends parents use the school bus service.
“Be alert at all times,” he said. “Students are about 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking a bus instead of traveling by car. That’s because school buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road; they’re designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in preventing crashes and injuries.”
For more information on base school bus services, call the Schriever AFB Child Development Center at 567-4742.
For more information on school bus safety laws or safety advice, contact Hawkins at 567-2888 or visit the following websites: