As of Tuesday, August 30, 2016
With school starting this week, we again find children walking and riding their bicycles to school. Also those big yellow buses are on our streets and roads picking up and delivering children to and from home to school. While walking to and from the bus stop, waiting at the bus stop and crossing the street to get on the bus, these children are put at risk due to inattentive drives.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “for 23 million students nationwide, the school day begins and ends with a trip on a school bus. The greatest risk is not riding the bus, but approaching or leaving the bus.”
As a bus driver for the past seven years with the Hood River County School District I have personally seen too many close calls involving children getting on and off of my bus. When you multiply that by the 35 bus drivers in our district, there are thousands of incidents that happen each school year that put our children at risk.
It is important that adults and children know traffic safety rules.
Drivers always should watch for children when backing out of a driveway, driving in neighborhoods with school zones where children are thinking about rushing to school and not thinking about getting there safely. Slow down and watch for children who are walking in the street where there are no sidewalks, or playing and gathering near bus stops. Be alert for children who might dart out into the roadway without looking. All drivers should learn the flashing light system that school bus drivers use to alert motorists.
Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped, and that children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again
Remember, do not pass when red lights flash.
Children should get to the bus stop at least five minutes early. When the bus approaches students should stay at least 10 feet away and line up away from the street. Wait until the bus stops, the door opens and the driver indicates it’s okay to board the bus. If you have to cross the road to get on the bus, be sure that the bus driver can see you and only cross after the bus stops and the bus driver signals you to cross. Students should not walk behind the bus and if they drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver, never pick it up.
Parents should take the time to teach their children these important common sense practices so our children are safe.
For NHTSA’s Kids the School Bus & You safety check list go to www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/buses/kidsschoolbus_en.html.