Van Wert High School’s FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) students are raising awareness for the growing concern of bus safety after receiving a $1,000 grant from Families Acting for Community Traffic Safety (FACTS).
At the beginning of the school year, bus safety was pushed to the forefront of local and national news after multiple incidents consisting of close calls, critical injuries, and even death caused by cars passing school buses while they were stopped. Within the first six weeks of school, it was estimated 40-50 individuals violated school bus stop arm laws in the Van Wert City Schools district. Then in October, the Ohio School Board Association (OSBA) asked bus drivers to count how many times they were passed illegally at a bus stop in a single day as part of National School Bus Safety Week. The results were staggering; more than 5,000 drivers reported over 1,500 violations on that day alone.
To Lynda Ragan, VWHS FCCLA advisor, the issue of bus safety is personal as her husband drives bus for VWCS. She hears too often the close calls he’s involved in as people frequently disregard the flashing lights and extended stop arm of the school bus. She encouraged students to utilize the topic of bus safety for an FCCLA project which could then be submitted as part of the grant application.
Madison Krick, a senior at VWHS is the lead student on the project with junior Megan Vogt assisting. They decided on the slogan “Red Lights Flashing – No Passing” and junior Allie Etter designed the artwork.
After receiving the $1,000 grant, the students were able to purchase three large banners, 25 yard signs and 1,000 car stickers to help spread awareness. The large banners will be placed at the heavily-trafficked intersections of U.S. Route 127 and Fox Road, U.S. Route 224 and Van Wert Decatur Road, and where the exit ramp of U.S. 30 meets Washington Street. VWCS bus drivers will select 25 yards in which to place the signs where they will be highly visible to passing cars. The car stickers will be given out to parents of students who ride the bus, as well as anyone who requests one until supplies run out. Ragan also intends to create a pledge banner where high school students pledge to drive safely and stop for school buses.
Krick and Vogt will take their project to Apollo Career Center in Lima on Saturday, February 29 for FCCLA’s regional competition. Those who qualify will move on to compete at the state level, and the top two at state will compete at the national competition in Washington D.C. in July.