School bus safety tips for students, drivers, and parents

Drivers must be 20 feet away from a stopping bus

La Crosse public schools are just a week away from starting. To help make the first day and every day after that a safe one bus drivers are urging everyone to do their part.

Veteran bus driver Rob Carrie has driven La Crosse area students to and from school for nearly 30 years.

“It’s really important, we are hauling the most precious cargo in the world, children,” says Carrie.

As an employee for First Student Bus Company, the company that serves the La Crosse School district and other area schools, Carrie says he goes through a lengthy safety checklist, but often has to deal with the unexpected once he hits the open road.

“I have to be aware of pedestrians, bicyclists, other people driver, and there are a lot of people out there driving inattentively,” says Carrie.

Carrie makes about 25 stops on an average route, and each time he stops cars around him must stop too. If drivers fail to stop when a bus is dropping off children they could face up to a $400 fine.

“Make sure that when you see the flashing red lights and the stop signs come out that you’re stopping at least 20 feet either behind or in front of the bus,” says Lt. Patrick Hogan of the La Crosse Police Department.

Bus drivers and police stress that parents and students can also do their part to ensure safety on the bus.

“A lot of times students want to run, they don’t pay attention if there are cars,” says Joy Gerke, a driver safety trainer at First Student Bus Company. “We urge parents with students in the first grade or lower to be with their child when they are dropped off or picked up by the bus.”

As for the older students, Gerke says phones can be distracting and dangerous.
Once students are safely on the bus the list of rules shortens.

“As long as kids talk quietly and don’t distract the bus driver too much, they are good,” says Carrie. “We want them to have a good time to and from school.”