Marion County Highlights School Bus Safety Week
School buses are everywhere in North Central Florida and they have their fair share of accidents.
If you include every fender bender, there's almost one a day around North Central Florida.
A tiny percentage are deadly. In 2010, eight people lost their lives in school bus accidents around the state.
Last year there were 98 school bus accidents in Marion County. This year the number is significantly lower at 26 bus accidents, but that doesn't stop state and local officials from celebrating national school bus safety week.
More than 24,000 students in Marion County ride a school bus every single day.
Vanessa Williams of Ocala has two kids who take the bus. It's only her sons first year riding, but she already worries about him being involved in an accident.
"I believe all parents do," said Williams.
As a way to remind drivers about school, bus traffic laws some state government departments are particpating in the National School Bus Safety week.
This years slogan is "Stop on Red, Kids Ahead."
Rebecca Rora with the Marion County Public Schools Transportation Department said they're teaching students to stay 10 feet away from the bus when crossing or waiting at the bus stop.
"I think that we do have some accidents or near crashes because we are not as alert as we need to be. We are really focused on getting to work and some are focus on getting their other children to school that are driving by car," said Rora.
By law drivers are required to stop when approaching any school bus that displays the flashing lights and has it's stops signs extended like you see here.
"Children get excited when they see their buses coming, so we really depend on the public and those who are out there to watch out for the little ones," said Rora.
You don't have to stop if you are driving on a divded highway with a raised median or with an unpaved space of at least five feet.
"And when in doubt you need to stop," said Rora.
Rora said the only school bus accident death in Marion County was back on September 2008. A semi driver slammed into a bus from behind and 13- year -old girl from north marion middle lost her life.
It's those kinds of stories that worry parents like Williams, who depends on the big yellow bus.
"That really makes you wonder if you should take your kids to school everyday, but I mean if you don't have the transportation to do that everyday that you have to just put your faith in the bus," said Williams.
Marion County School officials encourage drivers to be even more cautious within the next couple weeks because on November 4th the time will change and kids will be waiting at the bus stop when it's still dark.
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