General: According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) between 2001 and 2009, 1,386 people died in school transportation-related crashes. This is an average of 139 deaths per year. What is the solution to how these deaths can be reduced or eliminated. Read on for some ways to make it safer for our children and grandchildren while waiting or riding a school bus.
1. Drivers can prevent a fatal crash by being alert and drive defensively when in a school zone or approaching a bus stop. Specifics things that can be done are.
- Continually scan the road.
- Pay extra attention in school zones.
- Reduce speed as necessary
- Watch for children gathering near bus stops
- Watch for children walking in the road or on the road shoulder.
- Learn and obey school bus laws.
- EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED.
2. School bus flashing light system
- School bus yellow light:
-- Bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children.
-- Drivers must slow down and prepare to stop.
- School bus red light:
-- Indicates the bus has stopped and that children are getting of or on the
-- Drivers must stop and wait till:
--- The red light stops flashing.
--- The bus stop arm is withdrawn.
--- The bus begins to move again.
3. State laws pertaining to school bus safety:
- All states have laws in place to protect children who are boarding and
exiting school buses. Though specific laws vary from state to state,
there are standard rules that all drivers must follow:
-- Never pass a school bus when its lights are flashing and its stop arm is
extended. This means children are boarding or exiting the bus.
-- Never pass a stopped school bus on the right side, where children enter and
-- In many states a school bus driver can report to law enforcement illegally
4. Quick review:
- YELLOW FLASHING LIGHTS
-- The bus is about to stop.
-- Slow down.
-- Be ready to stop.
- RED FLASHING LIGHTS AND EXTENDED STOP ARM
-- The bus is stopped.
-- Children are entering and/or exiting the bus.
-- Stop and wait for:
--- The red lights to stop flashing.
--- The stop sign to be withdrawn.
--- The bus to start moving.
- DEFENSIVE DRIVING SKILLS
-- Continually scan the road.
-- Expect the unexpected.
-- Pay attention in school zones and at bus stops.
-- Be aware of children approaching/leaving the bus.
-- Slow down.
-- Watch for children in/near the road.
5. Summary: About 480,000 yellow school buses provide transportation service daily nationwide. There are about 26 million elementary and secondary school children that ride school buses daily within the USA. School has started in many parts of the country and/or will be starting in the next week or so. Be prepared by starting each day thinking that when I see the yellow school bus, I must go through my immediate drill action plan in the event of the unexpected.