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Stop in the name of safety: tips for a safe ride to and from school

Sep 04, 2023 10:08AM ● By Content Editor
Photo: Robin Jonathan Deutsch

From the Minnesota State Patrol - September 4, 2023

Pop-quiz: Is it safer for students to ride to school in a school bus or a parent or guardian's vehicle? The answer may surprise many people. Riding in a school bus is one of the safest modes of transportation — even safer than a car.

Related: Cook County ISD 166 & Cook County Sheriff's Dept receives $28,000 grant for school bus stop arm cameras

Parents can feel confident as the new school year begins that their children are riding safely on Minnesota's school buses thanks to the Minnesota State Patrol's annual inspections. Every school bus in the state is inspected annually to ensure they're meeting rigorous safety standards. Troopers also conduct driver reviews, investigate complaints, and facilitate training for carriers, managers and drivers.

"Getting children to and from school safely is a top priority," said Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Brian ​Reu. “There are over 18,000 school buses in Minnesota that are used to transport students on a daily basis. Our inspection program is a small — but important — part of that team effort."

As safe as school buses are, that protection ends once students step off the bus. Each year, children are hit or experience near misses with cars when drivers don't stop for school buses. When that happens, the trauma isn't only physical — the children, their families, the bus drivers and other witnesses also experience emotional distress.

With school starting this week in many Minnesota districts, the State Patrol is reminding drivers that all motorists are required to stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights and an extended stop- arm. Those who don't face a $500 fine and possible criminal charges. Despite these penalties, the number of citations issued to drivers for school bus stop arm violations has only gone up since 2020.  Some of these citations come from school bus stop arm cameras, which help school bus drivers capture violations enabling law enforcement to hold those accountable for driving by buses with extended stop arms. The initial project during 2022 and 2023 will equip about 59 percent of all school buses with stop arm cameras.

To keep kids safe, drivers should slow down, pay attention and anticipate school children and buses, especially in neighborhoods and school zones. The best way to be aware of your surroundings at all times is to put the distractions away.

But good driving behavior is only half of the equation. Children also need to know and practice safe behavior. Before school starts, parents should remind children to look out for cars when getting off the bus, wait for the bus driver to signal that it's safe to cross, and make eye contact with drivers before proceeding.

For more school bus safety tips, visit:

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