‘30 Seconds Can Save a Lifetime’ around school buses

Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The Mississippi Association of School Superintendents has joined with law enforcement agencies, schools, parents and others to promote safe driving practices during this week, National School Bus Safety Week.

MASS urges motorists to obey the law and help prevent tragedies in their communities by using caution when encountering school buses.

“School buses are designed to keep students safe, but their safety features are no match for careless drivers,” said MASS Executive Director Phil Burchfield. “This time of year, many students are picked up early in the morning when it’s still dark, which can affect visibility. Drivers should be extra cautious when they encounter school buses and make sure that distractions and impatience don’t cloud their judgment.”

As part of the 2021 campaign, MASS is building upon its award-winning “30 Seconds Can Save a Lifetime” initiative with website and social media posts, advertising and outreach to reach as many Mississippians as possible. The theme is based on the average time it takes for students to get on or off buses at stops.

“We chose ’30 Seconds Can Save a Lifetime’ to remind drivers that the decisions they make at bus stops have real consequences because real lives are involved,” Burchfield said. “Each child on the bus has a home, a family and a future full of hopes, dreams and aspirations. Waiting for them to safely get on and off the bus is time we are investing in their lives and their futures.”

Drivers in Mississippi are required to stop at least 10 feet from a school bus when the bus is loading or unloading children. They must not proceed until all children have cross the street, flashing red lights are no longer activated and the stop sign on the side of a bus is retracted.

Disobeying the law carries serious consequences. In 2011, the state’s Legislature passed Nathan’s Law — named for a 5-year-old Jones County boy killed by a driver passing a stopped school bus. The law permits higher fines as well as felony charges if their illegal action results in injury or death. School districts are also permitted to mount cameras on stop arms to help identify offenders.

“Through the campaign, we’re asking everyone to use whatever forums are available — classrooms, churches, sports activities, neighborhood groups, civic clubs — to talk about school bus safety and to educate their families and people in their communities,” Burchfield said. “Just spending a few moments reminding others about school bus safety could help prevent tragedies.”

For school bus safety tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, visit www.NHTSA.gov.