PARMA, Ohio (WJW)– The Parma City School District is the first in the state to pilot a new program that aims to improve school bus safety.
The district is adding extended stop arms to 10 school buses, extending bus stop signs 3 feet further from the sides of the buses.
“Everything we do is to keep our kids safe, so this is just an extra level of protection to maybe get that attention of a driver that may not see that bus there stopped,” director of transportation Angelo Caputo said.
Caputo said the program costs about $2,150 per bus. The extended arms are first being added to buses with routes along main roads, where drivers have been increasingly failing to stop for buses that are picking up and dropping off kids, according to Caputo.
“We’ll get three or four cars that fly past the bus,” he said.
The extended arm is designed to break away if hit by a passing vehicle. The change was approved by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which regulates school bus safety.
“I think this is just another great option to put on there just to get that attention to stop,” said Ohio State Highway Patrol Sgt. Todd Belcher.
It comes as more Ohio drivers are cited for illegally passing stopped school buses. OSHP data shows school bus violations increasing over the last three years, up nearly 36 percent from 2,815 in 2017 to 3,821 in 2019.
Belcher reminded drivers to beware that buses are returning to area roads for the first time in months.
“Just take a little extra time, pay more attention, don’t drive distracted and remember, you have to stop for the red flashing lights,” Belcher said.
In Parma, the new stop arms are yet another reminder to try to stop drivers from illegally passing buses.
Caputo said the district is aiming for a zero pass rate. He said it plans to collect data from the pilot program and, if the program is successful, may add extended stop arms to additional buses.
“We want to see if this is going to work for us and keep our kids safe,” Caputo said. “That’s what we’re here for.”
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