Fall marks the return of so many wonderful things; Fall festivals, leaves changing color, Monday Night Football, and most wondrous of all – the kids are back to school! Most parents would rest easy with the knowledge that their children are the least at risk for injury when riding the bus. However, you might not realize just how dangerous it is for kids before they get on and after they get off of the bus.

The American School Bus Council estimates that school buses are responsible for keeping approximately 17.3 million cars off of the roads surrounding schools.  In addition, school buses are the safest mode of transportation for getting children back and forth to school. The real dangers come from drivers who neglect to follow the proper procedures when driving near the big yellow school bus.

 

According to National Highway Traffic SafetyAdministration data, 2,847 school-aged pedestrians were killed in traffic related crashes in 2010. The largest portion of these deaths happened between the hours of 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.- more than any other time during the day. In addition to pedestrians, occupants of other vehicles are involved in these traffic related crashes. Of the student fatalities, 58 percent occur when traveling by teen driver and 23 percent when traveling by adult driver.

Today, we‘d like to share some tips as part of the nationwide traffic safety campaign, Think Safe, Ride Safe, Be Safe!  We’ve compiled these tips from the experts at NHTSA, U.S. Department of Transportation and ConsumerReports.org to help students, parents and drivers to stay safe around buses.

Tips for Drivers:

  • When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school. Better yet, walk around your car or out to the sidewalk to check for any children walking in your path before you get in.
  • Drive slowly and watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks. Also be aware of children playing or waiting around bus stops.
  • Be alert and aware on the road. While children are typically taught about looking both ways, they could dart into the street without looking if they are late or distracted.
  • Learn the school bus laws in your state. Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load or drop off children. Drivers need to slow down and prepare to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop arm signal indicate that the bus is stopped, and that children are getting on or off. Cars must stop a safe distance away and not proceed until the red lights stop flashing, the stop sign folds back, and the bus continues on its way.
  • Never pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children. It is illegal in all 50 states. Also never pass a school bus on the right, it is illegal and dangerous.
  • The area 10 ft. around a school bus is at the highest risk for a child being hit, so allow space for children to enter or exit. Most states have distance requirements and may be further away than you may think.
  • Be aware that roads near schools may have slower speed limits during arrival and dismissal times than during non-school hours and these speed limits are strictly enforced.

Tips for Students:

  • Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive, do not push or shove others when you walk.
  • When the bus approaches, stand at least three giant steps (6 ft.) away from the curb, and line up away from the street.
  • When boarding the school bus, go straight to your seat and sit facing the front and do what the school bus driver tells you.
  • When exiting the bus, look left-right-left to make sure no cars are coming and wait for the driver to signal it is safe to cross.
  •  If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least five giant steps (10 ft.) ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the driver can see you, and you can see the bus driver.  
  • Never walk behind the bus

Tips for Parents

Teach children to follow these common sense practices to make school bus transportation safer.

Parents looking for additional tips and resources regarding child safety, see the kids and car safety guide or Parents Central.  With these safety tips, you and your family will be alert and prepared this school year. Any tips you would add to the list? Tweet them to us!  

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