NHTSA Stresses Safety Around School Busses
In the wake of recent tragedies involving motorists striking children headed to or from their bus stops, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration make a statement reminding everyone to drive cautiously around school busses.
"These horrible crashes may have been preventable had drivers had drivers simply obeyed state school bus safety laws, or been attentive drivers," said Heidi R. King, deputy administrator of the NHTSA. "It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus when the red lights are flashing and the stop arms are exteneded."
King's statements come after a week in which children in Indiana, Florida, Mississippi and Pennsylvania were either injured or killed by motorists.
"We can’t stress this point enough - Young lives depend on you to drive safely," the NHTSA said in a Tweet Friday morning.
The NHTSA reports children's greatest risk comes not from riding the bus, but approaching or leaving one. In fact, the NHTSA finds children are 70 times more likely to get to school safety when they take the school bus.
The federal agency wants motorists to remember the following when they encounter a school bus:
• Be alert and slow down when driving in neighborhoods with school zones.
• Watch for children walking, playing or assembling near bus stops. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
• Obey the school bus laws in your state, as well as the flashing light signal systems used on school buses.
Here are some school bus stop safety tips for students and caregivers, courtesy the NHTSA:
• Arrive at the bus stop at least 5 minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. Stand at least three giant steps (6 feet) away from the curb. The bus stop is not a place to run or play.
• When the school bus arrives, wait until the bus comes to a complete stop, the door opens, and the driver says it’s okay before approaching the bus door. Use the handrails to avoid falling.
• Never walk behind a school bus. Walk on a sidewalk or along the side of the street. Cross the street in front of the bus with at least five giant steps (10 feet) between the front of the bus and you. Make eye contact with the bus driver before crossing to make sure the driver can see you.
• If you drop something near the school bus, like a ball or book, tell the bus driver right away. Do not try to pick up the item, because the driver might not be able to see you.
One final NHTSA reminder about school bus safety:
Flashing yellow lights mean the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Slow down and prepare to stop.
Flashing red lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off. By law, motorists must stop their vehicles and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving again.