Schools partner with state on bus safety campaign

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Whitefish Schools is taking the lead on a statewide initiative to alert drivers about the importance of school bus safety.

Whitefish has released a video to help illustrate the rules of bus safety on four-lane highways, as well as a public service announcement for radio stations to spread the word.

The Child Safety Network has declared October as National School Bus Safety month and the National Association for Pupil Transportation has declared Oct. 22-26 as National School Bus Safety week.

“Whitefish Schools is pleased to join our partners across Montana to address the importance of school bus safety,” said Heather Davis Schmidt, superintendent of Whitefish Schools. “Approaching or leaving a school bus is where the greatest risk occurs — and we need the help of motorists to keep students safe.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen said students must arrive safely to school before learning can occur.

“During School Bus Safety Week, I encourage school leaders to share bus safety best practices and laws with parents and the community as a whole,” Arntzen said in a statement. “I want to thank Whitefish Schools for taking the lead to ensure that students are safe on their way to and from school.”

Officials remind drivers that Montana has many four-lane highways that include bus stops where motorists usually need to stop when a bus stops and flashes its lights. Four-lane highways can be confusing, however, because the rules change with the layout of the road.

Whenever a bus stops with flashing lights, all motorists going in the same direction always needs to stop. For motorists traveling in the opposite direction, they may continue moving only if the highway has a divider, like a pit, median, or barrier between traffic and the other lanes.

“With kids back in school, this is the perfect time for all of us to re-evaluate our own driving habits and ensure we are staying alert, focused, and mindful of school buses on the road,” Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said in a release. “Our children look to us to keep them safe, and road safety starts with knowing the laws and being responsible behind the wheel.”

The Whitefish Schools video can be viewed at https://www.dropbox.com/s/64v2vcldtgxh4fs/School-Bus-Safety-HD-1080.mp4?dl=0 .

The Montana Highway Patrol and the Office of Public Instruction also have an informative video called Driving Safety 101 - School Buses, which can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSYE2z3LCUI.

For more information on National School Bus Safety Week, visit https://www.napt.org/nsbsw.

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