August 4, 2014

With the start to another school year, children will be back in the classroom and on the road. More than 26 million elementary and secondary school students across the United States begin and end their day on a school bus. Many parents don’t realize, however, that the greater danger for their children lies not in the ride but traveling to and from the bus stop and getting on and off the bus.

“It’s important for parents to review school bus safety tips with their children,” said Dennis Rowe, director of operations for Priority Ambulance in Knox County. “As both schoolchildren and motorists adjust to increased traffic on the roadways at the start of the school year, it’s especially important to make sure precautions are taken.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an average of 137 individuals die in school transportation-related crashes each year. More children die when hit by a school bus than while riding in them. Bus drivers have a blind spot of approximately 10 feet around a bus, which can be a difficult concept for younger children. Half of the pedestrians involved in school bus accidents are between the ages of 5 and 7.

While preparing kids for the school year with backpacks, paper and pencils, make sure they also are equipped with safety information, including:

  • Be at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. Early arrival prevents children from running across a street to catch the bus as it pulls away from the stop.
  • When the bus approaches, stand at least three big steps away from the curb, and line up away from the street. Avoid the blind spot of approximately 10 feet around the bus.
  • Wait until the bus stops, the door opens and the driver says it’s OK before entering the bus.
  • Never walk behind the bus.
  • Walk where the driver can see the child, and the child can see the driver. Walk at least five big steps in front of the bus.
  • Be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps don’t get caught in the handrails or doors.
  • Cross the street with an adult until age 10.
  • Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
  • Never run into the street or cross between parked cars.
  • Even though motorists are supposed to stop when a bus is picking up or dropping off children, make sure they look both ways before crossing the street.

Motorists also must prepare for the new school year, according to Rowe.

“Drivers should drive more slowly and carefully before and after school hours and be alert for children walking in the street, especially near bus stops,” Rowe said. “And remember: Yellow flashing lights on a school bus indicate the bus is preparing to stop, and red flashing lights mean cars must come to a complete stop on bothsides of the street to allow children to cross.”

With attention to these safety rules, both kids and parents can enjoy a safe school year.

About Priority Ambulance:

Based in Knoxville, Tenn., Priority Ambulance provides the highest level of clinical excellence in emergency and nonemergency medical care to the communities it serves. Throughout its national service area, more than 300 highly trained paramedics, EMTs and telecommunicators staff state-of-the-art ambulances with the latest medical equipment and technology.