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Get an A in school bus safety

Sept. 6, 2018

 A school bus with red lights flashing and the stop arm extended


Labor Day weekend is over, and suddenly everything seems different. The air is a little chillier. A few leaves are starting to turn yellow. And, even if you don’t have kids, you’ve probably noticed your neighborhood crawling with school buses again. Yes, folks, school is now in session.

If you’re worried about whether students are safe on those big yellow buses, consider this: according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses are the safest mode of transportation for kids. In fact, kids are eight times safer on their school bus than they are in any other vehicle – and that includes your car.

A slightly more disconcerting statistic is that more children are killed outside of a school bus than inside. Children’s safety is very dependent on the motorists present when they get on and off the school bus. That means spreading the word about what to do when a school bus has its stop arm out and or its red lights flashing.

If you’re driving on an undivided road (that is, a road without a median), you’re required by law to stop at least 20 feet from a school bus whose red lights are flashing or whose stop arm is extended, whether you’re approaching from the rear or from the opposite direction. On a road with a median, you don’t have to stop if you’re approaching from the opposite direction, but make sure to look for children anyway.

If you have school-age kids, it’s important to teach them basic school bus safety. When they’re waiting for the bus, tell kids to stand back from the road and avoid running or other rowdy behavior. When they’re on the bus, they should stay seated, listen to the driver, and use quiet voices. The fewer distractions the driver has, the more safely they can drive.

When kids are exiting the bus, be sure to tell them to look carefully to make sure no cars are passing on the shoulder as they’re getting off the bus. If they have to cross the street in front of the bus, tell them to get where they can see the driver’s face, then wait for them to signal that it’s safe to cross. Kids should look left-right-left before stepping away from the edge of the bus, then continue to watch traffic as they cross.

So as the leaves turn to match the yellow school buses, be sure to practice good school bus safety. Whether you’re a motorist, a parent, or both, it feels good knowing everyone is safer.