Screenshot of a young man in a bus safety video, with line drawings behind him reading Ride Smart, Drive Smart.

As school districts across the state begin a new school year, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) and the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) have teamed up to release video public service announcements (PSAs) for media partners to use to educate students and the community about school bus safety.

The PSAs provide information on student safety procedures, such as safe loading and unloading, and are divided into three sets of grade levels: K-3, 4-8 and 9-12. Both long and short forms of the PSAs are available, along with transcripts.

“Every day in Kentucky, 9,822 school buses transport more than 385,000 students. Student safety is our biggest concern,” said Elisa Hanley, Pupil Transportation branch manager at KDE. “Taking the time to teach our students and community about bus safety procedures is one of our highest priorities because our goal is for each student to get to school and home safely – not just at the start of school, but every day.”

Per state regulations, Kentucky school districts must provide instruction in school bus pupil safety each school year to all students. Even though some students do not ride to and/or from school, they may ride the bus for field trips, sports or other school activities, so all students must receive safety instructions.

Tips for Drivers
The second part of the safety campaign developed by KDE and KOHS focuses on educating motorists on Kentucky school bus stop laws. The Kentucky School Bus Stop Law graphic explains when drivers must stop for a school bus.

In Kentucky, it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus in either direction on a two-lane road if the red warning lights on the bus are flashing.  According to crash reports, more students are injured getting on or off the bus than at any other time during the bus ride.

School bus drivers use a flashing signal light system to alert motorists of what is about to happen:

  • Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
  • Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped and that children are getting on or off the bus. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn and the bus begins moving before they can start moving again.

“Laws are not the same in each state and it is important to educate the public of what Kentucky laws are,” said Hanley. “Nationally, illegal passing is a problem and education is a big part of the solution.”

For more information on school bus safety, KDE and KOHS have produced a variety of resources that are free to download.