WARREN - Area Ohio State Highway Patrol posts are participating in National School Bus Safety Week, which starts Monday.
Troopers across the state plan to be highly visible, enforcing the law in and around school zones - and following school buses on their daily routes, according to troopers.
This year's theme is "I See the Driver. The Driver Sees Me!"
Col. John Born, state patrol superintendent, said in a news release that Ohio law requires motorists approaching from either direction of a stopped school bus to stop at least 10 feet from a bus loading or unloading. If a bus is stopped on a road divided into four lanes, only traffic driving on the same direction must stop.
He said from 2009 to 2011, Ohio reported 4,946 crashes involving school buses, and troopers issued 1,333 citations for passing a stopped school bus.
''While school buses remain the safest mode of travel on Ohio roadways, school bus crashes still occur. ... In order to make this school year safe, we need motorists to be patient and never pass a stopped school bus and for children to always wait for their bus driver to signal it is safe to cross the roadway,'' Born said.
The greatest risk to children occurs outside the school bus, as injuries and fatalities result from motorists who attempt to pass a stopped school bus, he said.
Children are also reminded to look both ways and wait for the go ahead from the bus driver before crossing the street.
Born said in addition to patrolling throughout the week, troopers may be found riding on school buses looking for motorists passing the stopped school bus and other crash-causing violations.