Parents can help keep travel safe

Thursday, August 24, 2017

We set out to write a school bus safety editorial today, concentrating on the need for other drivers to stop when they see a bus with flashing lights and extended stop sign.

Bus drivers can tell many stories of careless or ignorant drivers rolling by at full speed while young children are waiting to cross the street or road.

Itís still an important message.

For the record, in Nebraska:

ďUpon meeting or overtaking, from the front or rear, any school bus on which the yellow warning signal lights are flashing, the driver of a motor vehicle shall reduce the speed of such vehicle to not more than 25 mph, shall bring such vehicle to a complete stop when the school bus stop signal arm is extended and red signal lights are flashing, and shall remain stopped until the stop signal arm is retracted and the school bus resumes motion or until signaled by the bus driver to proceed.Ē

Kansas has a simpler statement:

ďIt is unlawful to pass from either direction a school bus that is stopped with its lights flashing.Ē

Surprisingly, however, in 2015-16, only one child was killed by another vehicle driving through a school bus stop arm and flashing light, according to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, conducted annually by the Kansas State Department of Transportation School Bus Safety Unit.

Three of the four school children killed that year were hit by the school bus itself, students or siblings of passengers either being struck or run over by the school bus during loading or unloading. All the victims were under age 10.

The child who was killed by another vehicle was a 16-year-old crossing the street to board his bus.

Over the past 46 years, about 73 percent of the 1,230 deaths happened to schoolchildren under 9 years old.

Nearly 57 percent were linked to school-related vehicles as opposed to other vehicles.

As a first-day incident in Hastings illustrated, many incidents involve the schools transporting the students themselves.

Happily, the 4-year-old girl involved in the Hastings incident was not harmed, being accidentally left on the bus by a substitute driver after she failed to get off at the school-run preschool. A passerby noticed her after she got out at a bus barn.

A school official admitted a triple-redundant system had failed, and promised to take steps to make sure similar incidents didnít happen again.

Meanwhile, parents can help reinforce safety rules, offered by the National Safety Council, with their children:

Getting on the Bus:

When waiting for the bus, stay away from traffic and avoid roughhousing or other behavior that can lead to carelessness.

Line up away from the street or road as the bus approaches.

Wait until the bus has stopped and the door opens before approaching the bus.

Behavior on the Bus:

If seat belts are available on the bus, buckle up.

Donít speak loudly or make loud noises that could distract the driver.

Stay in your seat.

Donít put your head, arms or hands out the window.

Keep aisles clear of books and bags.

Get your belongings together before reaching your stop.

Wait for the bus to stop completely before getting up from your seat.

Getting Off the Bus:

If you have to cross in front of the bus, first walk at least 10 feet ahead until you can see the driver.

Make sure the driver can see you.

Wait for a signal from the driver before crossing

When the driver signals, look left, right, then left again. Walk across the road and keep an eye out for sudden traffic changes.

If your vision is blocked, move to an area where you can see other drivers and they can see you.

Do not cross the center line of the road until the driver signals it is safe.

Stay away from the rear wheels of the bus at all times.

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