Nearly 225,000 students travel 42.7 million miles of mountainous terrain aboard some 3,700 school buses in West Virginia every year. And most make it safely to their destination but accidents do occur. Statistics show that most injuries and fatalities occur at the bus stop even though state law requires motorists to stop when buses are loading and unloading students.
“We ask motorists to be extremely cautious and to obey the bus signals while the students are being loaded and unloaded from the bus,” said Ben Shew, executive director for the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of School Transportation. “Last year two students were killed in West Virginia and one was severely injured while walking to their bus stop. It is our responsibility as parents, students, bus operators, motorists and school administrators to provide a safe ride for our children.”
Motorists can help by maintaining a safe distance when following a school bus and approaching bus stops and to expect the unexpected.
Despite accidents, school buses remain the safest way to get children to school. The Report Card on School Bus Safety says it’s 87 times safer for children to take a school bus than for parents to drive them, let them ride with friends, or even allow them to walk or ride a bike to school.
“School buses, by all measures, are the safest motor vehicle on the highway,” Shew said. “One bus-related death is one too many. Safety is and should always be our No. 1 priority.”
For more information about school transportation, contact the Office of School of Transportation at (304) 558-2711.