By Mason W. Canales
The Cove Herald
Every day this week there has been a pattern to some of the Copperas Cove Independent School District's posts on Twitter, Facebook, and its own website.
During the day, a school bus safety tip flew across all three Internet sites as the district campaigned to make everyone more aware about School Bus Safety Week and rules and warnings they should follow to help keep traveling students safe.
"I can tell you that the word is getting out," said Gary Elliott, director of transportation for the district. "If one person got it, that is one more that didn't know."
Weeks like School Bus Safety Week, which is a nationally recognized week, allow school districts such as Copperas Cove to bring a heightened awareness to something that just maybe a part of everyone's routine, said Katie Rudesheim, spokeswoman for the district.
School Bus Safety is not only important for the students riding the bus, but for the drivers who share the road, Elliott said. Nine times out of 10, a bus accident is caused by another vehicle colliding with the bus.
That is what happened this year during the district's last bus accident on Aug. 25. A car drove into the front of a school bus that was stopping to let students off.
Elliott said the driver was able to warn the five reminding students on the bus about the head-on collision, and everyone on the bus avoided injury.
Drivers should be more cautious when following or passing school buses, Rudesheim said. They should always be prepared to stop and they should never pass a bus when its lights are flashing. Not all school buses have the stop signs, and those lights indicate that drivers should be stopping.
"Just take the time to slow down," Rudesheim said. "It is a fine of up to $1,000 if you pass a bus with its light blinking."
Bus safety doesn't stop with other motorists.
Elliott said one of the most important parts of practicing bus safety should be done by the school bus driver every day. School drivers must make a pre-trip and post trip inspection of all their safety equipment to know it is working. This equipment warns the drivers about stops, possible crossing children and more.
Students also can play a role in bus safety by listening to the bus driver, being quiet, and remaining in the seats until their stop to avoid being a distraction to the driver, Elliott said.
Copperas Cove Independent School District has 44 buses on routes every school day with most buses making two routes. The yellow transports carry about 5,000 students to and from school on those days.
The buses are on the road generally between 5:50 and 8:20 a.m. and then 2:45 to 5:10 p.m., and that is when people should be most cautious, Elliott said.
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7474. Follow him on Twitter at KDHCoveEditor.