Many Phillips County students returned to the classroom this week. On Monday, most others will be settling back into their school routine. With school back in session, student safety in and around school buses becomes a top priority for schools, parents, bus drivers and motorists.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Arkansas Department of Education and the Arkansas Association of Pupil Transportation are joining forces to promote a school bus safety campaign – Flashing Red. Kids Ahead.

Many Phillips County students returned to the classroom this week. On Monday, most others will be settling back into their school routine. With school back in session, student safety in and around school buses becomes a top priority for schools, parents, bus drivers and motorists.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Arkansas Department of Education and the Arkansas Association of Pupil Transportation are joining forces to promote a school bus safety campaign – Flashing Red. Kids Ahead.

The 3-week campaign, which officially began Aug. 4, will end Friday, Aug. 25. However, school officials stress that school bus safety is important throughout the year.

Throughout Arkansas, more than 7,000 school buses will transport about 350,000 students to and from school and school-related activities.

Arkansas law prohibits a vehicle from passing a stopped school bus when its red lights are flashing, meaning children are present. In 2016, school bus drivers in 100 Arkansas school districts reported more than 700 violations of motorist illegally passing a school bus. Act 2128 of 2005, known as Isaac's Law, increased the fines, penalties and punishment for anyone found guilty of passing a stopped school bus.

“As a former school bus driver and district superintendent, I know firsthand the importance of school bus safety,” commented Jerry Owens, senior transportation manager of the Arkansas Division of Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation. “School bus safety isn't just the responsibility of bus drivers. Every motorist plays a critical role in ensuring all students arrive to and from school safely.”

Resources such bus safety videos, copies of Isaac's Law, safety tips for parents and fliers are available through the Flashing Red. Kids Ahead. campaign for school districts to use to help educate the public. To access those resources go to http://www.arkansasased.gov/divisions/communications/flashing%20red.%20kids%20ahead.

The ADE is urging students to get involved in the campaign by sharing videos and photos of school bus safety is important on social media. They can be posted using #2017FlashingRed.

Remember: Flashing Red. Kids Ahead.