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Health: Your kids can ride the bus safely

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By Samuetta Hill Drew

Some 25 million boys and girls nationwide begin and end their school day on a school bus. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that school buses are 70 times safer than cars, and 10 times safer than walking. The buses are designed for safety, with flashing lights, giant mirrors, high seat backs and that trademark “bright yellow.”

Yet, the NHTSA has discovered that accidents involving schools buses are “almost three (3) times as deadly for occupants of the other vehicles. Since 2004, 106 people overall, both children and adults, have been killed while riding in or driving a school bus.” Of the 106 people killed, the majority of them were passengers.

So with all the school bus safety features, how are children still being injured or killed? The National Safety Council research found that most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents were between the ages of 4-7 and they were walking. They were hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. Bus safety doesn’t only happen on the bus. It’s critical that everyone plays a role in making sure children get to and from school safely. Let’s explore the safety precautions parents, students and motorist need to follow.

Sharing the Road with School Buses:

When driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you additional time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a stopped school bus loading and unloading children.

Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road – if it’s stopped to load and unload.

When you see the yellow-amber lights, this means a bus is approaching a bus stop.

Come to a complete stop when you see stop arms and red, flashing lights. This means a child is actually getting on or off the school bus.

Getting To and On the Bus:

Parents should walk to the bus stop with their child(ren) to teach them the proper way to get on and off the school bus.

It is important that children stand six (6) feet away (or three giant steps) from the curb as the bus approaches.

When waiting for the bus, children should stay away from the traffic and avoid running, roughhousing or any other behavior which could lead to carelessness.

They should not stray onto the street, alleys or private property (everyone doesn’t like children).

Teach children to wait for the bus to come to a complete stop and door is open before approaching the bus.

Children should use the handrails when boarding. They should be careful of straps or drawstrings that could get caught in the door.

Make sure you teach your child(ren) (no matter what age) that if they drop something, they should tell the bus driver and make sure the bus driver hears them and is able to see them before he/she picks up the dropped item.

Next week’s article will conclude bus stop safety. Due to the sheer number of American children who ride them daily, it is important that all the pertinent safety precautions to help them Keep an Eye on Safety be adequately addressed.