School is back in session. In between the excitement of seeing friends again and learning new things, it is important that students, parents, and other drivers on the road are aware of safety measures to take when it comes to school buses.
Did you know that students are about 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking a school bus instead of traveling by car? (NHTSA.gov)
School buses are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in preventing crashes and injuries. School buses are designed to be highly visible and include safety features such as: flashing red lights, cross-view mirrors and stop-sign arms. They also include protective seating, high crush standards, and rollover protection features. ("School Bus Safety," NHTSA.gov)
There are laws that protect students. Students who are getting off and on a school bus are protected by law, by making it illegal for drivers to pass a school bus that is picking up/dropping off passengers no matter what direction they are approaching in.
Below are some tips for parents and drivers to make sure that students get to and from school safely this school year.
-Make sure that your child knows, when waiting at the bus stop be at least three giant steps away from the curb.
-The bus stop is not a place to run or play, so make sure your child knows that waiting patiently will keep them safest.
-When the school bus arrives have your child wait for the bus to come to a complete stop, for the door to open, and the driver to say it is okay before they approach the bus.
-If your child has to cross the street, make sure they do so in front of the bus. Tell them to make sure that they walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the street to a place at least five giant steps in front of the bus before crossing.
-When crossing have your child make eye contact with the bus driver before they proceed across the street, that way your child knows that the driver can see them and the driver knows they are wanting to cross.
-When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch out for youth who may be thinking about getting to school, but not necessarily thinking about getting there safely.
-Make sure you slow down. Watch for children crossing the street to get to a school bus or school yard, even in areas with no cross walks or sidewalks.
-Watch for children playing and hanging out near bus stops.
-Learn and obey the school bus laws in your state.
-Know the "flashing signal light system" that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending action. These include:
- Yellow flashing lights- these indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. As a motorist be prepared to slow down and stop your vehicle.
- Red flashing lights and extended stop arms- these indicate the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off. As a motorist, you must stop your vehicle and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before you can start driving again.
Have more questions about school bus safety? Check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for more information.