FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Northwest Allen County Schools (NACS) and East Allen County Schools (EACS) are continuing to make sure students are safe as well as show their appreciation to drivers during National School Bus Safety Week.
At NACS, the transportation department is working to make sure students, parents and the community know what they can do to make school buses safer.
For students, the department said there are to different environments: inside and outside the bus. Inside the school bus the driver has a lot of control over what happens. Outside the bus, parents and the public are asked to make sure students are safe at the bus stop.
“We have seen the drivers become a little more complacent lately than what we’ve seen in the past. Moving forward we take this week to remind everybody that we’re out there, we have flashing lights, slow down if you see us, stop if the lights are red and stay stopped until we move along,” said Natalie Hoffman, transportation director for NACS.
Despite new technology, the school says it is still dealing with people who are violating the Stop Arms Law. It is illegal for motorists to pass a bus that’s stopped with its red lights flashing and stop arm extended.
NACS says only 12 violations were reported this year, but it sees them every day.
“The majority of our school bus stops take less than 30 seconds. For the ones that do take over 30 seconds, most of those are under a minute. So, if a minute of your time isn’t worth stopping for a school bus, just keep in mind that you could be putting a child’s life at risk for one minute of your time. You just have to ask yourself if its worth it?” Hoffman said.
The school is also holding a district-wide coloring contest for kindergarten through fifth grade students to emphasize different bus safety messages. On Monday, one student from each of the eight elementary schools will receive a small award from NACS Transportation.
EACS also showed its appreciation for the hard work and long hours its drivers put in.
“Some of these folks are up at four o’clock. They’re up and moving because some of them leave the bus yard at 5:30 in the morning. Some of those folks who are up that early are not off the road until 6 p.m., and if they’re doing an athletic trip… there are some long days,” said David Myers, director of transportation for EACS.
To show their appreciation, EACS bus drivers received a lunch from The Orchard. Myers said messages of appreciation were also announced over the bus driver radios so the students can hear that the district appreciates its bus drivers.
“We appreciate our bus drivers so much. The luncheon today is just a small way to do that. But here’s the bottom line, if we can’t get our kids to school we can’t educate them. Our whole focus this year is on in-person learning, and so it is crucial that we get our kids here safe everyday and that we return them home safe everyday,” Marilyn Hissong, superintendent of EACS.
Anyone wanting to become a bus driver for EACS is asked to contact the bus garage at 260-446-0159.