JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Video from school bus cameras make the close calls very real. One after the other, students attempting to get on school buses or cross the road in front of them, children are narrowly missed by motorists not obeying the outstretched stop sign attached to a school bus.
"We would like to think that's it's mostly misinformation," said Michelle Cadle, Arkansas PTA-Northeast Region vice-president. "They're not educated enough. But unfortunately, the truth is people are just in a hurry. They just want to get to their destination."
But, that disregard for the law is a central focus for National School Bus Safety week, Oct. 17 – 21.
"Illegally passing a bus that has their flashing red lights on and cross arm extended is a misdemeanor fine and it carries a 21 days suspended driver's license, a thousand dollar fine and 90 days in prison and up to 400 hours of community service," Cadle said.
In Arkansas last year, there were 350 bus accidents. The last onboard fatality was in 2003.
"The vision and mission of Arkansas PTA is making sure each child reaches their full potential," Shelly Anderson, president-elect of Arkansas PTA, said. "So one of the big things we advocate for is safety. It was about this time last year that we were at a board meeting and Michelle brought up the idea of school bus safety."
An Arkansas student was killed while in the loading zone in 2014. The only time that someone is allowed to continue on when a school bus stop sign is extended is when there's a divided highway.
"It has to have a least a 25-foot median separating the roads," Cadle said. "Arkansas buses travel 23 million route miles each year, so they are pulling lots of vehicles off the road to make it safer. But, we need everyone in our state to pay attention to those red lights. Put down the cell phones and watch for our children."
Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.