AISD bus drivers must all pass physicals, certifications

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

Alice ISD bus drivers will participate in an annual safety workshop Friday, which happens to coincide with National School Bus Safety Week.

This year's safety week theme - "Stop on Red, Kids Ahead" - reminds drivers to obey the law regarding stopping for a school bus.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, for Texas students the most dangerous part of their journey to and from school is crossing the street to board a school bus or after exiting one.

During the 2006-2007 school year, no students were killed during this critical part of their journey to and from school in Texas, but passing motorists pose the greatest danger to these students.

"Motorists who do not stop are endangering our most precious resource - our children," said DPS Director Col. Thomas A. Davis Jr. "These reckless drivers will face fines of up to $1,000, plus court costs if they are convicted."

Texas state law requires drivers to stop for school buses that are stopped and have activated their alternating red flashing lights. Drivers should not proceed until the school bus resumes motion; the driver is signaled by the bus driver to proceed or the visual signal is no longer activated.

If a road is divided only by a left-turning lane, drivers on both sides of the roadway must stop for school buses with alternating red flashing lights activated. However, if the lanes are separated by an intervening space or physical barrier, only motorists going in the same direction as the bus are required to stop.

School Bus Safety Week also recognizes the hard work and dedication of school transportation professionals, especially school bus drivers, who ensure a safe journey for students every day.

AISD Director of Operations J.C. Perez III said the district's bus drivers have really done well this year, with no problems to report of in the last year.

The district does send out safety officers to randomly follow the buses and examine how the bus drivers conduct themselves while on the road, as well as the behavior of other motorists as they interact with the buses.

"We haven't had any incidents this year," Perez said. "All of our drivers go through the proper certifications and are given physicals yearly. Anyone who doesn't pass our criteria is not allowed to drive."

School buses remain one of the safest modes of transportation in Texas. According to DPS, 38,000 school buses transport 1.5 million Texas children every school day. School buses account for less than one-half of one percent of all Texas roadway crashes.