AFT Tulsa kicks off 'Stop for the Bus' campaign

School bus drivers and bus assistants launched a safety campaign in Tulsa, Okla., this week, urging other motorists who share the road to obey the law and stop when approaching a school bus with flashing red lights or an extended stop sign.

AFT Tulsa is a PSRP affiliate representing 200 school bus drivers and assistants who cover 146 routes, safely bringing children to and from school. Members have enlisted partners from the community to help publicize their campaign, "Stop for the Bus—Our Kids Are Worth the Wait." So far, partners include the mayor, the school district, youth groups, businesses and the Indian Nations Council of Governments, who together are distributing posters, stickers and announcements around the city. Business sponsors include a restaurant and a doughnut shop that have placed bus safety posters in their windows.

Lorretta Johnson at Brown's Donut Shop

Tulsa is a stop on the AFT's national back-to-school tour. AFT Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson (shown above at Brown's Donut Shop) kicked off Tulsa's events on Aug. 22 at one of the city's four bus barns. She also visited campaign partners and toured Eugene Field Elementary School in Oklahoma City.

"Everyone is in such a hurry to get to where they're going," Johnson said. "But when it comes to kids' safety, we've got to slow down and obey the law. A very brief wait while kids step on and off the bus won't cause much of a delay but will save lives. So, drivers, just stop when you're supposed to! Don't speed up and try to get around the bus."

"Our top priority is getting kids to and from school safely," added Ed McIntosh, president of AFT Tulsa (shown below welcoming people to the event), who said several local children have been bumped and bruised by distracted motorists who didn't stop for the bus, and that luckily the injuries weren't any worse. He noted, however, that failure to stop for school buses has become a nationwide problem. According to a recent survey by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, more than 75,000 vehicles passed school buses illegally on a single day earlier this year.

AFT Tulsa's Ed McIntosh at the press conference

Many local affiliates have rolled out AFT PSRP's Stop for the Bus campaign over the years, most notably Charlotte County, Fla. Although states have differing laws, they typically require drivers to stop when they approach a school bus with flashing lights or stop sign extended.

"We want all our kids to get to and from school without incident," said Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, who made an early-morning appearance at the city's eastern bus barn. "Everyone has a role to play to make that happen. As the slogan goes, stop for the bus—it's worth the wait."

[Annette Licitra]