Mikayla McElhaney smiles at her bus driver Steve Lawry as she gets on the bus to go home from Helen M. Knight Elementary on Friday, Feb. 8. [Photo by Kristin Mills/ Moab Sun News]

Consider giving one more Valentine this year: Remember the bus driver.

This week is Love Your Bus week.

Twenty-six million schoolchildren ride buses each school day in the United States.

In Grand County alone, 675 children ride the bus each day.

Verna Butcher, transportation supervisor for the Grand County School District, has ten bus drivers on staff, as well as three substitute drivers. Together, they complete 34 routes each day.

School buses are the safest mode of transportation for getting children back and forth from school, according to the American School Bus Council.

“Students are about 50 times more likely to arrive at school alive if they take the bus than if they drive themselves or ride with friends. Students are much safer riding the bus than being driven by a parent, and are about 20 times more likely to arrive to school alive if they take the bus than if a parent drives them,” stated a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 2009 report.

Parents are encouraged to take extra time to talk about bus safety with their children, such as check both ways before stepping off the bus, making eye contact with the bus driver and wait for the bus driver’s signal before crossing the street and to stay in a safe place away from the street when waiting for the bus to arrive.

Drivers are also encouraged to be aware when driving behind buses or along school bus routes. Drive the speed limit and do not pass when the red lights flash. It means that a child may be crossing the road.