Alabama schools enforce laws to protect more than 375,000 bus riders

Alabama schools enforce laws to protect more than 300,000 school bus riders
Pike Road Schools operates 21 total buses, each with multiple safety features, including cameras, stop signs and emergency exits. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Pike Road Schools operates 21 total buses, each with multiple safety features, including cameras, stop signs and emergency exits. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

PIKE ROAD, AL (WSFA) - According to the Alabama Department of Education, more than 375,000 students in the state ride the bus. Pike Road Schools Superintendent Dr. Chuck Ledbetter said that number includes the nearly 1,200 PRS students who ride the bus.

"We're makings sure we get our students to school and get them home and also making sure we do it in a safe way," Ledbetter said. "The most dangerous time of the day is when a student is off the bus. When they're getting off or on, right around that bus, that's when they're in the most danger the entire day."

Michael Sibley, director of communications for ADE, agreed. In a statement, he said:

"As school starts it is important to remember to adhere to all traffic laws involving school buses.... especially stopping when the bus has stopped and extended the STOP sign. Study after study has consistently shown the safest way for students to travel to and from school is a school bus. They are designed for safety and compartmentalization. Most school bus accidents don't occur on the bus, or even involve the bus, but rather in the danger zones surrounding buses. We encourage all motorists to drive defensively and be careful."

In 2006, the Alabama legislature passed a law requiring drivers on both sides of a roadway to stop for stopped school buses. The goal is to help protect students as they load and unload.

PRS operates 21 total buses, each with multiple safety features, including cameras, stop signs and emergency exits. The buses also have stickers warning and reminding parents and the public of the state's law on trespassing on school buses. The law was passed in 2013, named after Charles "Chuck" Poland Jr., a bus driver who was killed while protecting students on his bus from a trespasser, in the Wiregrass.

"No one is allowed on the bus other than students," Ledbetter said. "If parents have issues or concerns, they can come to us. We will work it out, but no one can get on the bus."

This is actually the first year PRS will operate its own buses, instead of contracting them out. Ledbetter said that will give the district the ability to better manage any issues and help ensure better quality control.

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