As part of National School Bus Safety Week, the more than 700 students at the Merwin Elementary School held school bus evacuation drills Oct. 21 – 22.
An annual national initiative, School Bus Safety Week, which ran from Oct. 20-24, adopted the theme of “Stop on Red, Kids Ahead” this year.
The school bus safety week is held to remind motorists that that they are required to stop for all stopped school buses that are flashing red lights or displaying the extended stop arm, and gives students a chance to learn how to calmly respond, and know how to exit the bus, in any given emergency situation.
In a truly ironic twist that accompanied bus safety week, the afternoon before the evacuation drills, Merwin school bus #10 was involved in an accident.
A motorist driving without a license struck the bus and drove up underneath it, at around 4:30 p.m. on Monday Oct. 20, on Ferris Road in Union Township. Fortunately, the more than 40 students on the school bus being transported home after school were not injured in the accident.
"The kids were textbook," Hospelhorn said. "They actually experienced a wreck and knew exactly what to do."
Every year, the state requires the evacuation drills, Hospelhorn said, and every year the elementary school shows the kids how to evacuate the buses in an orderly fashion if a situation ever warranted doing so.
"In this case, on Monday, what the kids had learned paid off in a big way - we were all very proud of the way they handled the accident - they were excellent," the principal said.
As part of the evacuation drills, after the buses pulled up to the school's curb, all of the students, who were very serious about the exercise, exited the buses from the rear emergency doors (simulating an emergency evacuation), walked across the crosswalks, and then lined up against the walls before entering the school.
"It was a successful drill," Hospelhorn said. "We are confident that our kids know what to do in case of any emergency."
The Ohio State Highway Patrol is urging all motorists that are approaching a school bus from either direction to, as required by law, stop their vehicles at least 10 feet from the stopped school bus.
If a school bus is stopped on a road divided into four or more lanes, only traffic driving in the same direction as the bus is required to stop by law.
According to the State Highway Patrol, there were more than 1,700 crashes that involved school buses statewide in 2007.
"While school buses remain the safest mode of travel on Ohio roadways, school bus crashes do occur," Patrol superintendent colonel Richard Collins said. "With the cooperation of motorists, parents, and children, we can all make the bus ride to and from school as safe as possible for our children, and make this a safe school year throughout Ohio."