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CHP observes teen driver and school bus safety weeks

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Statewide, the California Highway Patrol will participate National School Bus Safety Week and National Teen Driver Safety Week ending on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

School Bus Safety Week, which began today, observes nearly 1 million California students who ride the bus every day, according to a release.

There are more than 25,000 certified school bus drivers in California who go through 40 hours of training by the state Department of Education. They also attain CHP certification and complete physical examinations as well as drug tests. Drivers must possess valid first aid and medical cars and obtain background clearance from the California Department of Justice. In addition, the CHP inspects and certifies each bus annually.

Although there were more than 1,700 collisions involving school buses in 2011, preliminary CHP Statewide Integrated Traffic Records indicate no school bus passengers were killed in those wrecks.

Studies by the California School Employers Association show the most dangerous part of a school bus ride is when the students are getting on and off the bus.

Motorists are encouraged to pay attention to school buses when the warning lights are flashing. In California, flashing yellow lights are a warning to slow down and prepare to stop. Flashing red lights and the extended stop arm require all motorists to slop for children entering and exiting the bus and crossing the street.

Also this week, the CHP will observe teen driver safety, which began on Sunday.

Vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for teenagers. The overwhelming majority of teen collisions are caused by inexperienced drivers or distractions behind the wheel, including using cell phones, eating or drinking, adjusting the radio or simply chatting with friends.

The CHP offers multiple programs geared toward teenage driver education including: Every 15 Minutes, which focuses on high school juniors and seniors; Start Smart, which is a driver safety education class targeting future licensed drivers; and Impact Teen Drivers, which is a public awareness and education program for teen drivers and their parents about the dangers of distracted driving.

National Teen Driver Safety Week is dedicated to raising awareness and seeking solutions to preventable teen deaths on the road. It is held annually during the third week of October.

Allison Gatlin, On Twitter @allison_salnews #salinas.