Carroll Sheriff's Office aims to improve bus safety

The Carroll County Sheriff's Office announced this week that it plans to conduct additional patrols during the school year to improve school bus safety.

To promote student safety and community awareness, the Sheriff's Office will be conducting additional patrols as part of the School Bus Safety Enforcement Program, according to a news release. The program is part of the Governor's Office of Crime Control & Prevention.

At the start and close of each school day, deputies will be alert for drivers illegally passing school buses while concentrating on school bus stops, bus routes and traffic at local schools.

The Sheriff's Office reminds motorists:

• When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch for children who may be thinking about getting to school, but may not be thinking of getting there safely.

• Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood.

• Watch for children playing and congregating near bus stops.

• Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.

The School Bus Safety Enforcement Fund provides grants each year for local law enforcement agencies to address the problem of drivers illegally passing school buses. The Sheriff's Office received $19,500 for enforcement during the 2011-12 school year and cited 16 motorists for failing to stop for the flashing red lights of a school bus.

But the Sheriff's Office said enforcement is not enough and advises parents to teach their children to follow these common practices to make school bus transportation safer:

• Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.

• When the bus approaches, stand at least "three giant steps," or six feet, away from the curb and line up away from the street.

• Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it's OK before stepping onto the bus.

• If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least "five giant steps," or ten feet, ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the driver can see you and you can see the bus driver.

• Use the handrails to avoid falls. When exiting the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps don't get caught in the handrails or doors.

• Always walk in front of the bus, never walk behind the bus.

• Walk at least "three giant steps" away from the side of the bus.

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