“This month, thousands of Ohio school children will be heading back to school. For many of these students their day starts and ends by riding a school bus. The safety of the students riding to and from school and to school-sanctioned events is top priority,” a recent media release from the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) stated.
“All Ohioans can help make this school year a safe one,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “School bus safety involves a commitment from motorists, parents and children.”
3,962 traffic crashes involving school buses occurred in Ohio from 2016 to 2018. During this time, four fatal crashes occurred, killing four people. None of those killed in the four fatal crashes were on a school bus. The last fatality that occurred on a school bus in Ohio took place in 2010, according to the Patrol.
Compared to the previous three-year average, the number of crashes in Ohio involving school buses declined during the first half of 2019; however, three fatal school bus-related crashes have already occurred in 2019.
According to the Patrol, in Pike County, there were five crashes involving a school bus during the three-year period. In surrounding counties, there were 18 crashes involving a school bus in Scioto County, 13 in Ross County, 15 in Highland County, six in Adams County, and five in Jackson County during the three-year period.
As school buses take to the roadways at the start of the 2019-2020 school year, the Patrol is reminding motorists that they are required to stop at least 10 feet in front of or behind a school bus when flashing lights and an extended arm are displayed, and may not resume driving until the school bus begins moving again. OSHP wrote 1,803 citations for this law violation from 2016 to 2018. The Patrol advises motorists to allow extra time for school bus stops when driving.
School buses are required to be inspected twice annually, before the beginning of the school year and once randomly during the school year, to make sure the buses are operating properly. Ohio law requires OSHP to conduct school bus inspections for the state. The Patrol conducted 121,876 school bus inspections from 2016 to 2018, an average of 40,625 inspections per year.
“Safety on the roadway is a shared responsibility by school bus drivers and motorists,” said the commander of the Chillicothe Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Lt. Tim Karwatske. “Motorists should always exercise caution while children are boarding and exiting school buses.”