With students getting ready to return to school, community members should prepare to see an increase in school buses, pedestrians and bicyclists on the road.
On Monday, students in the Winston-Dillard, Glide, Days Creek and Elkton School districts, as well as several private schools, will be going back to school. All other schools in the county will start the following week.
“We’re prepared for new riders,” Roseburg Public Schools Transportation Supervisor Denny Austin said. “Kindergarteners will probably have a passport or some sort of travel voucher that is pinned to their coat or on a lanyard around their neck. For the newest riders, we take some extra care.”
Parents are encouraged to have students at the bus stop five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
One day a year, school districts in Oregon complete a bus passed survey, measuring the amount of times motorists illegally pass school buses that are stopped with flashing red lights. According to the Roseburg survey, school buses that were stopped to pick up and drop off students were passed by vehicles 50 to 60 times — in one day.
“That’s something to be very concerned about,” Austin said. “That 50 to 60 times in one day. If you took that times the 176 days that we’re in school, that’s a very big number.”
Vehicles must stop across all lanes of traffic, unless there’s an unpaved median or barrier. This means on five-lane street, such as Northeast Stephens Street or Diamond Lake Boulevard, all traffic must stop when a bus is stopped with lights flashing.
“It seems to me there’s always this hesitation of people on the opposite direction, a couple of lanes over, of ‘Do I stop, do I not stop?’ and legally they have to stop,” Roseburg Public Schools Superintendent Jared Cordon said. “When they see those lights and that arm come out, regardless of whether you’re behind the bus or heading toward the bus to stop.”
School bus company First Student has several safety tips listed on its website for parents and students, including the need to be aware of moving traffic, leave on time to get to the bus stop, pay attention, don’t get on or off a moving bus and hold on to the bus handrail.
“Students are responsible for staying at the stop,” Austin said. “Not wandering onto private property or collecting a bouquet of flowers out of somebody’s yard.”
Representatives from school bus company First Student in Roseburg and Tri City did not return calls by The News-Review.
Throughout the summer, bus drivers underwent training and all buses were safety tested. Austin confirmed the company is still looking for additional drivers in Roseburg.
This year an additional concern in Roseburg is road construction in front of high school and near Winchester Elementary School.
“Everybody’s going to have to play well together,” Austin said.
There will also be more children walking and riding bicycles to school. It is important those students use designated crosswalks and traffic signals, make eye contact with drivers before crossing and wear reflective material.
Blue Zones Project Umpqua has been encouraging more students to walk and bike to school. Calls to the organization asking for additional safety tips and inquiries into events planned to start the school year were not returned.