Five students waiting for school buses lost their lives when struck by drivers in one week this fall in the U.S.
Those tragic deaths prompted Rutherford County Sheriff’s patrol deputies and school resource officers to develop Operation Bus Stop, an educational and enforcement program to promote school bus safety from Dec. 10-14.
Their goal is to remind drivers about bus safety for about 25,000 students who regularly ride school buses to and from Rutherford County Schools.
Patrol Cpl. Michael Rodgers, who coordinates the Sheriff’s traffic safety programs, developed a campaign to:
- Teach students about watching for approaching drivers when getting on and off buses. SROs will talk to students about school bus safety.
- Remind drivers to slow down around school buses and watch for children crossing the street to get on buses through message signs, news stories and a video.
- Work with school bus drivers to keep children safer by determining high-risk areas.
- Enforce the laws to protect children’s lives. Deputies and SROs will work overtime hours and follow buses to enforce bus traffic safety.
Drivers who are ticketed for running a school bus stop sign face a $50 fine and $328.50 in court costs.
Student Kent Turner, son of SRO Sgt. Irvin Turner, used the slogan, “Flashing Lights Mean Kids in Sight,” to ask drivers to pay extra attention to school buses.
“You can save a kid’s life,” Kent said.
Rodgers reminds drivers:
- The yellow flashing light on a bus tells drivers to slow down. By the time the bus driver turns on the red light and stop sign, drivers must stop.
- Motorists driving on a two-lane road or a four-lane road without a median must stop in all directions when the school bus stops.
- When driving on a four lane with a median, only the drivers behind the bus must stop.
West said the SROs are partnering with Rutherford County Schools to keep students safer.
“We ask drivers to slow down in neighborhoods,” West said. “Watch for children playing near bus stops. And obey the school bus laws.”
Pictured: Promoting school bus safety are, from left, SRO Sgt. Bill West, Patrol Cpl. Michael Rodgers and student Kent Turner, son of SRO Sgt. Irvin Turner.