2-year-old organization's activities focus on school bus safety

September 28, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

Since Stella Fanzone saw a neighborhood child struck and killed by a driver who didn't stop for the flashing lights of a school bus, she's been working to make sure a similar accident never happens again.

The Clary's Forest resident runs CROSS -- Citizens Reach Out for Student Safety -- a 2-year-old organization devoted to raising awareness of school bus safety.

"To me, one child's death is too much," Mrs. Fanzone, a former county public school teacher, said. "It really bothered me that something happened. I wanted to do something if I could."

The organization has helped put up 15 signs throughout the county reminding motorists they must stop at least 20 feet in front and behind a school bus with flashing red lights to allow schoolchildren to cross the street safely.

Saturday, CROSS, with the school system and county fire and police departments, will hold the last of a three-part Kid's Safety Day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Chatham Mall.

The Police Department will display a patrol car and the Fire Department will display firefighting equipment. The Police Department's McGruff the Crime Dog and the Fire Department's Sparky the Fire Dog will make appearances. The Fire Department will also have a display, called "Mr. Smokes," to show students how to crawl to escape from smoke and fire in an emergency.

The school system will have on display a school bus used for drivers' training and Buster the school bus, a radio-controlled toy that will work its way through the throng of schoolchildren, asking them questions about school bus safety.

Mrs. Fanzone's organization will hand out brochures explaining that motorists must stop at least 20 feet from the front and rear of a school bus when its red lights are flashing on an undivided highway.

Motorists traveling in the same direction as the bus on a divided highway also must stop at least 20 feet from the rear of the bus, while motorists on the other side of a divided highway are not required to stop. Failure to stop for a school bus could result in a $500 fine.

Mrs. Fanzone is gearing up for National Bus Safety Week from Oct. 16 to Oct. 22, when her organization will ask merchants around the county to wear school bus safety awareness buttons and distribute bus safety literature.

CROSS is conducting a survey among school bus drivers to tally the number of times they see motorists fail to stop.

"Once we get the statistics in the survey, the public will be alarmed at the numbers," Mrs. Fanzone said. "If people realize how many times their child was put at risk because of the violations, there may be more people who follow the law."

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