As the school year gets underway, we will be seeing more kids walking to-and from-school and children getting onto our busses. We want to remind parents and drivers to do their part to keep these kids safe. Safety should be a priority for every family as children return to classrooms this fall. It is important for parents to stay up-to-date on the proper safety precautions and share this information with their children to keep them safe throughout the school year. The law enforcement officers in Oneida County urge all of our citizens to practice good safety habits in relation to our schools, students, and transportation.
One way to ensure their safety is to go over a few, simple rules. Practice with your younger child how to safely wait for and board the school bus. Go over safe bicycling procedures if they’ll be riding and don’t forget your older child that may be driving. The older child may also be at a particular risk and needs your guidance.
Using cell phones, even hands-free, makes it harder for drivers to be alert to walkers who may also be distracted on cell phones.
More often than not, these deaths and injuries didn’t occur in a crash, but as the pupils were entering and exiting the bus. Remember these safety tips:
– Getting on the school bus: For some 22 million students nationwide, the school day begins and ends with a trip on a school bus. School buses are one of the safest forms of transportation on the road today. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, riding a bus to school is 13 times safer than riding in a passenger vehicle and 10 times safer than walking to school. The reality of school bus safety is that more children are hurt outside the bus than inside as passengers. Unfortunately, each year many children are injured and several are killed in school bus incidents.
Some safety tips for busses:
• When the bus arrives, stand at least three giant steps (6 feet) away from the curb.
• If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road until you are five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the bus. Then you can cross the street.
• Be sure the bus driver can see you and you can see the bus driver.
• Never walk behind the bus.
• If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up first because the driver may not be able to see you.
• Be aware of the street traffic around you. Drivers are required to follow certain rules of the road concerning school buses, however, not all do. Protect yourself and watch out!
– Sharing the road safely with school buses: Most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related crashes are pedestrians, four to seven years old, who are hit by the bus or by motorists illegally passing a stopped school bus. For this reason, it is necessary to know the proper laws and procedures for sharing the road safely with school buses:
• It is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
• School buses use yellow flashing lights to alert motorists that they are preparing to stop to load or unload children. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm signals to motorists that the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off the bus.
• Traffic in both directions must stop on undivided roadways when students are entering or exiting a school bus.
• The area 10 feet around a school bus is where children are in the most danger of being hit. Stop your car far enough from the bus to allow children the necessary space to safely enter and exit the bus.
• Be alert. Children are unpredictable. Children walking to or from their bus are usually very comfortable with their surroundings. This makes them more likely to take risks, ignore hazards or fail to look both ways when crossing the street.
• Never pass a school bus on the right. It is illegal and could have tragic consequences.
• Sharing the road safely with child pedestrians All drivers need to recognize the special safety needs of pedestrians, especially those that are children. Young, elderly, disabled and intoxicated pedestrians are the most frequent victims in auto-pedestrian collisions. Generally, pedestrians have the right-of-way at all intersections; however, regardless of the rules of the road or right-of-way, you as a driver are obligated to exercise great care and extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians.
• Drivers should not block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn.
• Do not stop with a portion of your vehicle over the crosswalk. Blocking the crosswalk forces pedestrians to go around your vehicle and puts them in a dangerous situation.
• In a school zone when a warning flasher or flashers are blinking, you must stop to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk or at an intersection with no marked crosswalk.
The National Safety Council has additional helpful safety information available at www.nsc/back2school.