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Schools and Communities Push to Keep Kids Safe

By Aaryn Frazier, November 05, 2018

A car versus bus crash epidemic is taking the country by storm and local Southeast Iowa is no exception to the crisis.

Durham School Services provides the busing for Ottumwa Schools and they recently sent out articles from various areas about a rash of injuries and deaths due to careless drivers. Impatient drivers are neglecting to follow the rules and laws of the road when it comes to buses stopped on roads.

“With early mornings and the occasional late evenings, our 35 drivers are dedicated to getting our students to and from school safely every school day,” said Virginia Aparicio, a Durham employee. “All of our buses are equipped with a lighting system and stop arm used by our drivers to notify other motorists when they are loading or unloading students. When the stop arm is extended and the lights are activated, this is a signal to other drivers to stop or slow down and use caution because children are present.”

Indiana, Mississippi and Florida are among states that major networks have reported this issue from. Legislators in Indiana are currently working to add cameras to the outside of buses to catch illegal passes and the hope is this will spark other states to do the same or similar things.

“I hate to think of this, but tragedies lead to people taking action,” said Republican Senator Eric Bassler. “Maybe something like this would have greater likelihood now because of what happened.”

Safety procedures for schools, students and buses are a major issue at home in Ottumwa as well according to Kim Hellige with Ottumwa School District.

“This is also a problem in our area,” Hellige said. “With people not stopping when the sign is out so children can cross safely.”

The hope is that awareness will breed action locally as well as state and county-wide.

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