CHARLESTON, W.Va. – With many schools across the state scheduled to open within the next couple of weeks, the West Virginia Board of Education and the West Virginia Department of Education want to remind motorists to exercise extra caution.
A survey of West Virginia school transportation directors shows that on any given school day, about 600 motorists illegal pass stopped school buses, putting the lives of schoolchildren at risk of injury or death about 120,000 times each year.
“School bus transportation is the safest way to get children to school each day,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple. “Yet, when motorists fail to obey the law, they endanger the lives of our children, our drivers and themselves. It is our responsibility as parents, students, bus operators, motorists and school administrators to obey the law and provide a safe ride for our children.”
About 3,000 West Virginia school buses travel nearly 43 million miles each year, transporting about 230,000 students each day to school safely and reliably. Across the country, school buses provide more than 10 billion passenger trips each year.
“We ask motorists to be extremely cautious, pay attention, and obey the bus signals while the students are being loaded and unloaded from the bus,” Marple said. “Avoid the urge to use your cell phones or other electronic devices while driving. Not only is it now against the law to do so in West Virginia, it is a real threat to the safety of our children.”
Drivers who fail to stop when a school bus stops and flashes its warning lights can be charged with a felony if their actions result in injury or death. A driver who causes an injury faces up to three years in prison; a driver who kills someone could be put in prison for up to 10 years. Drivers who simply fail to stop can be charged with a misdemeanor and jailed up to six months.
For more information, contact Liza Cordeiro the Office of Communication at 304-558-2699.