Millions of children rely on school buses to transport them to and from school each day. While school buses are generally safe – less than 1 percent of traffic fatalities involve kids riding on school buses, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – a school bus accident is always a possibility. Use this information to improve your child’s school bus safety as much as possible.
Waiting for the Bus to Arrive
Some accidents and disasters happen while children are waiting for the school bus to arrive. Teach your children that the bus stop is not a place to play or run around. They should sit or stand and remain stationary, at least six feet away from the curb, when waiting for the bus. If you can, wait with your child to ensure his or her safety. Once the bus arrives, all children should wait until it comes to a complete stop and the door opens to board.
Safely Crossing the Road to Get on or Off a Bus
Most Omaha child injuries and deaths associated with school buses happen because of motor vehicles striking children as they board or exit a school bus. Although it is illegal for motor vehicle drivers to pass a stopped school bus, many do so anyway. This is why it is important to teach children how to safely cross the street when boarding or exiting a school bus.
Children should always look both ways before crossing the street to board a school bus, even if the bus has its stop signs activated. Children should get in the habit of assuming that drivers will break the law. They should always look for oncoming vehicles before crossing the road, even with the right-of-way.
Never Cross Behind a School Bus
If a child does have to cross the road to get on or off a school bus, he or she should always cross in front of the bus – never behind the bus. Crossing behind the bus puts a child at a higher risk of being hit by a driver who may not be paying attention or realize that the child is crossing. The child should make eye contact with the bus driver and cross at least 10 feet in front of the bus. Wearing bright, visible clothing can also improve a child’s safety by increasing visibility.
Don’t Stop for Dropped Items
Children should never stop in the road when boarding or exiting a school bus. Children should keep everything in their backpacks – not their hands – to prevent items from being dropped in the road. If an item does get dropped, such as a cell phone, the child should continue walking and tell the bus driver or an adult that the item has been dropped, rather than stopping in the middle of the road to pick the item up. A motor vehicle driver may not see a child that is bent over in the road.
What Safety Equipment Do School Buses Have?
School buses are some of the safest motor vehicles on the road. They are designed to be safer than passenger cars – so safe that children are at a low risk of injury in an accident even without seat belts. This is made possible through compartmentalization, where children are protected in an accident by strong seats with cushioned seat backs that are spaced closely together.
If a school bus is smaller and weighs less than 10,000 pounds, children must be equipped with safety harnesses to keep them safe. In addition, large, yellow school buses are highly visible to help prevent collisions. They come with additional safety features, such as stop signs and flashing red lights, to warn other drivers. School buses also have high crush standards and rollover protection. If your child gets involved in a school bus accident, contact Knowles Law Firm for a free case consultation. Your family may be eligible for financial compensation.