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Nashua promotes school bus safety

By Grace Pecci - Staff Writer | Oct 22, 2019

NASHUA – Monday morning drop off was a little different for students at Birch Hill Elementary School, as they were greeted by a furry friend upon exiting their buses and heading into school.

That furry friend was First Student’s Safety Dog, who advocates for the safety of students in their communities.

As part of the national Operation Safe Stop awareness campaign, Safety Dog was in attendance to greet students with high fives and a few dance moves as they got off their buses, while promoting their safety.

The campaign aims to bring attention to the dangers of illegally passing a stopped bus with flashing lights, while also educating students, school personnel, parents and drivers about the school bus danger zone and safety tips.

The New Hampshire School Transportation Association said the danger zone around a school bus extends 10 feet out from the bus on all sides.

In New Hampshire, it is illegal to pass a bus that is stopped with red flashing lights.

New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated (RSA) 265:54 Overtaking and Passing School Bus, Paragraph One states: “The driver of a vehicle upon a way upon meeting or overtaking from either direction any school bus … which has stopped on the highway for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children shall stop his or her vehicle before reaching such school bus at least 25 feet away from such school bus. The driver shall not proceed until such school bus resumes motion, or until flashing red lights cease to operate.”

“It’s a major problem throughout the nation with buses getting passed by cars when they have their lights and stop sign out,” Nashua School District Director of Transportation David Rauseo said Monday. “We’re trying to raise awareness for it. We do have the police officers out, but that doesn’t necessarily raise enough awareness.”

Rauseo said as part of the campaign, officials are trying to spread the message: “When the lights are red, kids are ahead.”

District Superintendent Jahmal Mosley said there have been a few times that he has witnessed cars pass buses while their lights are flashing.

“It’s serious,” Mosley said. “We have rules on the road and we want to make sure people are safe. Keeping kids safe is why we’re here. I think it’s nice to bring that awareness. This is a way for us to be proactive about it.”

New Hampshire School Transportation Association President Marc Raposo said on one day, May 1, 2018, the association recorded 83 violations, in 25 communities. This prompted the campaign.

“This means a potential for 14,940-plus events could occur in a school year. It is only a matter of time before a tragedy will occur,” Raposo stated.

Operation Safe Stop was recognized across the state Monday, according to Raposo, thanks to a collaboration between the association, the New Hampshire Department of Motor Vehicles, the New Hampshire Office of Highway Traffic Safety, the New Hampshire State Police and Gov. Chris Sununu’s office.

Sununu, who was joined by New Hampshire Department of Safety Commissioner Bob Quinn, Bow Police Chief Margaret Lougee, and Bow School officials, proclaimed the week of Oct. 21, as “School Bus Safety Week” in New Hampshire.

“If we cannot put our kids on a school bus each morning and know they will be safe, nothing else matters. Raising awareness for this incredibly important initiative will keep students safe and drivers informed on the rules of the road,” Sununu stated.

Locally, Nashua had increased police presence in areas that First Student bus drivers have acknowledged as “problem areas” such as Pine Hill Road.

The New Hampshire Transportation Association is urging school districts to appoint local Operation Safety Stop coordinators to collect data for future use.

Grace Pecci may be reached at 594-1243, or at gpecci@nashuatelegraph.com.


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