With the school year well under way, the school bus makes its presence on roadways known. You might rely on bus services to bring your child to and from school. This arrangement conveniences you and allows you to arrive on time to work, but school buses are not without their risks.
While it’s true that school bus accidents account for less than 1% of all traffic fatalities nationwide, it’s also true that they still occur every school year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 128 deaths resulted from school bus-related accidents each year from 2007 to 2016. 98 of those who tragically lost their lives were under the age of 18. Some accidents happen when motor vehicles and school buses crash, but others take place when school buses strike pedestrians.
How can my child practice school bus safety?
There are bus safety tips that you can teach your child. Both the National Safety Council and the NHTSA offer suggestions for how your child should behave while waiting for, being around, and getting on and off a school bus.
Safety recommendations for waiting for the bus include:
- Ensure your child arrives early to the bus stop: If your child hastily runs to catch the bus, they may not pay attention to their surroundings and might get in the way. Being at the bus stop five minutes early could prevent serious accidents.
- Have your child maintain a safe distance from the bus stop: Your child should wait six feet or three giant steps away from the curb.
- Keep an eye on your child: If your schedule allows for it, watch your child at the bus stop and stay until you see them safely get on the bus.
Getting on and off the bus poses its own set of safety recommendations. For example, your child should:
- Be patient when entering or exiting the bus: It’s unwise to approach a school bus until it has stopped completely. Your child should additionally hold onto the handrail as they walk up or down the steps.
- Tuck in all loose or hanging strings: Backpack straps or sweatshirt strings could get caught in the bus doors when they close.
Even when your child is not directly interacting with, but is merely located near a school bus, there are specific safety tips to adhere to, such as:
- Abide by the 10 feet rule: Staying 10 feet away from a school bus is generally a safe bet, as it minimizes the likelihood of your child getting hit.
- Stay in view of the bus driver: There’s no reason your child should ever walk behind the school bus. Doing so is risky because the bus driver could easily not see them.
Although many safety standards for school buses exist, they’re not perfect and accidents still happen. As a loving parent, you prioritize protecting your child, but in the aftermath of a school-bus related accident, you may feel hopeless and distraught. It might be wise to consult an attorney to help you identify the next steps after your child has suffered an injury from such an accident.