With the theme “Cross In View, It’s the Right Thing to Do!”, this years National School Bus Safety Week is October 18 22. Every weekday in the school year school transportation systems in the United States operate approximately 440,000 yellow school buses to provide safe transportation for more than 24 million school-aged children.
Each year more than 800 students are killed going to and from school. It is safer to ride the bus than not. For bus riders, there were 5 passenger fatalities and 15 pedestrian fatalities at school bus stops. For students not riding buses there were 448 fatalities in passenger vehicles with a teenage driver, 169 fatalities in passenger vehicles with an adult driver, 131 fatalities to pedestrians and 46 fatalities to bicyclists.
The National School Bus Safety Week Resource Guide and Activity Booklet contains some especially useful suggestions: – Students riding a school bus should always: Arrive at the bus stop five minutes early. Stand at least 5 giant steps (10 feet) away from the edge of the road. Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says its okay before stepping onto the bus. Be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps or dangling objects do not get caught in the handrail or door when exiting the bus. Check both ways for cars before stepping off the bus. Crossing students should: Walk in front of the bus; never walk behind the bus. Walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least 10 giant steps ahead of the bus. Be sure the bus driver can see them, and they can see the bus driver. Wait for the drivers signal to cross.
Things Parents Should know About School Bus Safety: School buses are the safest form of highway transportation. The most dangerous part of the school bus ride is getting on and off the bus. Pedestrian fatalities (while loading and unloading school buses) account for approximately three times as many school bus-related fatalities, when compared to school bus occupant fatalities. The loading and unloading area is called the Danger Zone. The Danger Zone is the area on all sides of the bus where children are in the most danger of not being seen by the driver (ten feet in front of the bus where the driver may be too high to see a child, ten feet on either side of the bus where a child may be in the drivers blind spot, and the area behind the bus).
Half of the pedestrian fatalities in school bus-related crashes are children between 5 and 7 years old. Young children are most likely to be struck because they are in a hurry to get on and off the bus, they act before they think and have little experience with traffic. Assume motorists will see them and will wait for them to cross the street. Don’t always stay within the bus drivers sight.
Another annual day concerning school bus safety is Operation Safe Stop Day, a day when law police officers ride on board school buses and in marked and unmarked patrol units on selected bus routes that have a history of illegal passing complaints.
The Transportation Research Board in its Special Safety Concerns of the School Bus Industry released earlier this year listed overall safety issues by ranking. The top 15 are: Illegal passing of stopped buses by other vehicles; inattentive or distracted drivers of other vehicles; distractions (to the driver) on the bus; student passengers not sitting in their seat properly; passengers as pedestrians in the loading/unloading zone; horseplay at bus stops; lack of sufficient funding for fleet operation/maintenance/equipment; violence/bullying among student passengers; student passengers standing too close to the road at the bus stop; noise levels on the bus; lack of sidewalks at or near bus stops; roadway conditions (e.g., sunken/soft shoulders, potholes, width of road); storage of passengers personal items (e.g., backpacks, instruments); distractions (to the driver) outside the bus; and weather conditions when school is not delayed/cancelled.
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