Just this week, a pickup truck crashed into a Florida school bus on the first day of school there Monday, injuring a second-grader, according to the Associated Press (AP).

On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that an Alabama high school’s senior class president died following a collision with a school bus just days before.

Late last month, a school bus and an SUV collided in Ohio, injuring at least five children and three adults.

While schools here in Fayette, Westmoreland, Washington and Greene counties and others areas in Pennsylvania tend to start later in the year than other districts across the nation, the same concerns about safety hold true as our students start heading back to class in the coming weeks.

While the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has not yet released verified statistics for school bus crashes in 2018, there were several headlines throughout the academic year regarding accidents involving the buses, including some right here on our roadways.

In 2017, PennDOT reported that there were 292 school bus crashes resulting in 371 injuries across the state.

To say that it is of the utmost importance to pay attention while driving as students head back to school is clearly an understatement.

On any given school day, 1.5 million students in the state climb aboard a school bus expecting to arrive to school and from school safely. In our local areas here in western Pennsylvania, we also have a high concentration of school student vans that transport students to and from school. Drivers sharing the roadways with school buses and school vans need to be aware that when school is back in session, their commutes may be affected, and they need to make plans for that to ensure the safety of all involved.

Additionally, as classes resume for our area school districts this fall, we urge motorists to be aware of their surroundings, especially in school zones where children may be utilizing crosswalks, sidewalks, parking lots and other areas as they walk or even bike to school.

And as we leave the summer season behind and head into the fall, the daylight hours get shorter, oftentimes leaving students in the dark while waiting for the morning school bus. We urge motorists to use extra caution when driving during those early hours to ensure that students at their bus stops remain safe in areas where it may be difficult to see them.

As the school bells ring this fall and the traffic gets a bit heavier and slower resulting in a frustrated drive for some, we implore those drivers who aren’t fully aware of the laws regarding school buses to review them, and take them seriously. For those families who may have younger drivers, now is the time to review those laws with them to help ensure everyone stays safe this academic year.

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