In spite of our best efforts to make them the most highly visible vehicles on the road, unfortunately, the School Bus is still involved in all too many accidents. More times than not, the accident is the fault of the ‘other driver’.
A school-transportation-related crash is a crash that involves, either directly or indirectly, a school bus body vehicle, or a non-school bus functioning as a school bus, transporting children to or from school or school-related activities. For the purposes of this BLOG, “school-age” children are defined as children 18 or younger.The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) of the U.S. Department of Transportation has gathered research on school-transportation-related crashes, analyzing incidents between 2004 to 2013. Here are some of the statistics
- There were 1,344 people killed in school-transportation-related crashes, of which 327 were school-age children.
- 142 of the school-age fatalities occurred when the child was an occupant in another vehicle.
- 116 of the school-age fatalities were pedestrians. More than two-thirds (67%) of the school-age pedestrians fatally injured in crashes were struck by school buses or vehicles functioning as school buses.
- More school-age pedestrians were killed from 7 to 8 a.m. and from 3 to 4 p.m. than any other hours of the day.
- Impacts to the front of school transportation vehicles occurred in 53 percent of fatal school-transportation-related crashes.
- Among the 106 occupants killed in school transportation vehicles, 45 were drivers and 61 were passengers.
While buses likely remain the safest way to transport children to and from school, it is up to us as drivers to remember that we must share the road with all vehicles. But with a school bus, we be extra cautious given their precious ‘cargo’. Remember these important tips to help prevent an accident:
- Always allow a greater following distance when driving behind a bus so you have plenty of time to stop when the lights start to flash.
- If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
- Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children.
- The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus
- Be alert; children can be unpredictable.
According to research by the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 years old, and they’re walking. They are hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. A few precautions go a long way toward keeping children safe:
- Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic
- In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection
- Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign
- Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas
- Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way
- Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians
Always use extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians wherever they may be, no matter who has the right of way
We want everyone to drive and ride safely this school season. Visit the NHTSA website for additional safety tips and resources.
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