School will soon be back in session, and if you’re like many American parents, you’ll be relying on that iconic yellow school bus to transport your kids to and from school in the morning and afternoon. Before you send your kids off to the bus stop, however, you should discuss bus safety precautions with them.
According to the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration, buses are the safest form of school transportation and keep an estimated 17.3 million cars off the roads near schools every morning. But even though buses are known for being safe, children can still sometimes be injured, either while riding the bus or walking near it when getting off and on.
Of the estimated 23 million kids who take the bus to school every year, about 17,000 end up in the emergency room with school bus-related injuries. One of the most common types of accidents occurs when children are struck by a driver who could not see them because they were standing close to the side of the bus.
As a parent, it’s important to educate your children about the potential dangers associated with school buses in order to minimize their chances of being in an accident. It’s also important to remember to practice safe behavior when you’re driving in a car near a school bus. Read on to learn more about what you and your kids can do to stay out of a school bus-related accident this fall.
How Kids Can Stay Safe around School Buses
Take some time to review the following safety precautions with your children if they’re going to ride the bus to school this year.
Remember the 10-step rule. The 10-foot area around the school bus is considered a “Danger Zone” because it is hard for the bus driver or other vehicle drivers to see children who are standing in this area. When kids get off the bus, they should take 10 giant steps directly away from the bus and towards the sidewalk, even if it’s not the most direct way to get to the front of the school.
Always look both ways before crossing the street. Kids who need to cross the street to get to their bus stop should always cross at a crosswalk when they have the right of way. Even if they have the walk signal, they should look left, then look right, then look left again to make sure no cars are illegally moving through the intersection.
Wait for the bus at least 5 feet away from the curb. Kids should never stand or play right at the edge of the curb or in the street when waiting for the bus.
Be able to see and hear the bus and other vehicles. If your kids like listening to music on their phones or mp3 players, remind them to take the earbuds out when they’re waiting for the bus and when they’re getting off the bus, as headphones can make it difficult to hear oncoming traffic. Kids should also avoid wearing hoodies with the hood up when they wait for and get off the bus, as this can make it difficult for them to see traffic to the side.
Never stand near the bus wheels. Remind your kids that the driver cannot see them when they’re standing near the bus wheels. If they happen to drop something near the wheels, they should not go to retrieve it. They should first let the driver know that they’ve dropped something so that the driver will not pull forward while they are in front of the wheels.
What Drivers Need to Remember about School Buses
Kids aren’t the only ones who should review school bus safety this fall; drivers need to be aware of traffic regulations associated with school buses in order to avoid causing a pedestrian accident. Drivers should remember that it is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped, and drivers on the opposite side of the road must also stop when a school bus is stopped unless there is a median dividing traffic.
It’s also important for drivers to remember that when a school bus starts flashing their yellow lights, that means they are about to stop. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for flashing lights in school zones—typically, the roads around schools will have a reduced speed limit during the hours when students are getting dropped off or picked up in order to ensure that no drivers travel at unsafe speeds where students may be crossing the street.
It’s not hard for you and your kids to practice school bus safety, but it can go a long way in preventing serious accidents.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of The Law Office of Andrew Winston. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”-an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state-and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”