School buses are synonymous with the education journey, ferrying millions of children daily. They stand as some of the safest vehicles on the roads, accounting for less than 1-percent of traffic fatalities involving children. Yet, the risks elevate not during the ride, but when children approach or depart these buses. As drivers and guardians, our commitment to understanding and advocating for school bus safety is paramount.
Understanding the Risks
From 2012-2021, 113 lives were lost in school transportation incidents, according to the NHTSA. Out of these, 52 were drivers and 61 passengers. This statistic underscores the importance of heightened vigilance when around school buses.
Yield to School Buses
Upon spotting a school bus decelerating or halting, it’s crucial not just to observe the bus, but also its surroundings. Children, often waiting several feet away, may cross the road during their embarkation or exit. Thus, drivers should halt for school buses and refrain from overtaking.
The Peril of Illegal Passing
Every state prohibits overtaking a halted school bus displaying an extended stop-arm and flashing red lights. Such maneuvers pose grave threats to children and fellow motorists.
Deciphering School Bus Indicators
Being conversant with your state’s school bus laws is essential. Equally vital is understanding the school bus’s signaling system:
Yellow Flashing Lights:
The bus is about to stop. Decelerate and be ready to halt.
Red Flashing Lights & Extended Stop Arms:
Children are boarding or alighting. Wait patiently until the bus retracts its stop-arm, ceases its red lights, and resumes motion.
Ensuring Bus Stop Safety
To ensure our children’s safety at bus stop’s keep in mind the following:
Before the Bus Shows Up:
Make sure your children arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes early. Show them where they should wait, ideally keeping a minimum of ten feet away from the edge of the road. Remind them that the bus stop isn’t a playground, and horseplay should be avoided.
Getting On and Off the Bus:
Children should only step onto or off the bus once it has come to a complete halt, the driver has given the go-ahead, and the doors are fully open. Holding onto handrails can help prevent any missteps or falls.
Maintain Safe Distances:
Caution kids against wandering behind buses. If crossing in front, they should maintain a ten-foot distance and establish eye contact with the bus driver. If an item falls near the bus, it’s safer to inform the driver than to retrieve it themselves.
The Unique Safety Features of School Buses
Arguably the most regulated vehicles, school buses are crafted with children’s safety in mind. Their unique design boosts visibility, facilitated by features like flashing red lights, cross-view mirrors, and stop-sign arms. Other specifications include protective seating, heightened crush and rollover protection, and compartmentalization. This unique concept safeguards kids in large buses without the need for seat belts, using energy-absorbing seat backs. Meanwhile, smaller buses, whose dimensions resemble regular vehicles, come equipped with conventional seat belts.
School Bus Safety Takeaways
Although school buses are designed with top-tier safety features, the true safeguard comes from our shared vigilance and responsibility. By fully grasping and adhering to bus safety rules, we contribute to the well-being of our children. This not only strengthens the confidence that both they and we have in these easily recognizable yellow buses but also paves the way for a safer future on the roads.
See Also — How to Combat Road Rage
Photos under license from Adobe Stock.