Riding the school bus is a great way to get children to and from school. It’s a lot safer than other methods of transportation and provides access to school for about 26 million students each year. However, there are still risk factors associated with riding the bus that parents, children and motorists need to be aware of.
Despite the fact that there are stop arm laws in all 50 states, it’s estimated that over 10 million drivers illegally pass school buses every year. This poses a serious risk to children who may not be aware of approaching traffic obscured by the big yellow bus. It’s not clear why so many drivers violate stop arm laws when children’s lives are at stake, but it remains a daily threat to children. There simply is no “safe” way to illegally pass the school bus. If the bus is stopping, children are present.
To keep children safer, motorists need to follow the laws in their state. It’s illegal to pass a school bus within the roadway as it drops off or picks up passengers—regardless of the direction of approach. When sharing the road with a school bus, motorists should drive at a slower pace and keep a safe distance. This is the only way to be prepared to stop when those flashing red and yellow lights go on. States have different requirements on how close a vehicle can come to a school bus as it stops to pick up passengers, but that distance may be as much as 25 feet. Under no circumstance should a motorist ever be within 10 feet of a school bus.
Parents and Children
Parents also play an important role in keeping children safe around the school bus. Younger children should be supervised at the bus stop. All children should know about the risks involved with getting on and off the school bus and ways to stay safe. Children should be aware of how important it is to get to the bus stop early. They should stay three giant steps away from the road and not approach the school bus until it comes to a complete stop and the door opens.
Children who cross the street when getting on or off their school bus should be at least five giant steps (10 feet) in front of it. Before stepping onto the roadway, they should check for passing cars from each direction and wait for the OK signal from the school bus driver to cross.
Let children know that they should never walk behind the school bus or attempt to pick up an item that is dropped outside of it without getting permission from the driver first.
Everyone can improve the safety of children by letting others know that putting children’s lives at risk is not OK. Take a pledge to brake for the school bus. Report aggressive drivers and spread the word about keeping children safe through the resources available at schoolbusfacts.com.