As our children return to school this week, the majority of whom will be riding a bus, it is important to familiarize ourselves with a number of safety issues and concerns.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that twenty five million children ride almost a half a million buses to school annually. The NHTSA statistics indicate that 8,000 children a year are injured in school bus accidents while the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that 17,000 children need treatment in emergency rooms due to school bus accidents.
It is important to understand the risks and the preventive measures that can be taken to avoid school bus related injuries to our children.
During the times when our children are transported to and from school drivers, with special emphasis on teen drivers, should be especially careful and use extra caution which could include the following:
- Slow down as children may appear unexpectedly or dart out into traffic;
- Be alert. Watch for children playing or congregating near bus stops or walking in streets. Children who are late for school or are playing might run into the street unexpectedly; and
- Be especially careful when backing up, making turns or passing children walking or riding a bicycle on the street.
As parents it is important for us to review safety tips with our younger children which should include:
- Teach them to avoid the danger zone. Many bus related child pedestrian accidents occur in the "danger zone" which is the ten foot area which surrounds the bus especially in the front and rear areas of the bus. You should stress to your child that they should not walk in this area;
- Tell them when entering and exiting the bus, use the handrails and do not get on or off the bus until it stops moving;
- Do not allow them to cross behind the bus and teach them if they ever drop something by the bus NEVER try to pick it up but rather tell the bus driver; and
- Instruct them when riding on the bus find a seat, sit down, face forward, do not place body parts or other objects out of the window and do not shout or otherwise distract the bus driver.
- Lastly, if you ever witness negligent or reckless driving on the part of any bus driver you should report the bus number, the offense witnessed and the time and place it occurred to the bus company and/or police.
By being mindful of the precautions that we as parents can take, while at the same time educating our children, we can help to reduce the number of child bus related accidents and injuries.