The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a safety advisory prompting drivers and students alike to make safety a priority near school buses and school zones now that schools across the country are coming back in session.
Every year, approximately half a dozen students are killed by passing motorists each school year while waiting at or crossing toward their bus stops, according to STN’s independent research collected from national wire reports. All 50 states currently have laws that require drivers to stop for a stopped school bus, as do all 10 Canadian provinces, and NHTSA reaquires stop arms on the sides of school buses as well as eight-way lights to warn motorists of stops.
The advisory offered suggestions for parents and adults working with children on things to teach them about bus stop safety:
- Stand at least six feet (three giant steps) from the approaching school bus while waiting at the bus stop.
- Wait to board the bus until the driver says it is safe.
- When getting off of the bus, cross the street in front of the bus and make sure the bus driver sees you. Always watch for oncoming traffic when approaching or leaving the bus.
- Never walk behind the bus
The advisory also included reminders for motorists:
- Carefully watch for children when near school zones and school bus stops. Children late to the bus stop may dart into the street.
- Remember that children do not easily gauge vehicle speeds and can often misjudge when it is safe to cross the street when a vehicle is approaching.
- Become familiar with the stopped school bus laws in your state.
- Remember that yellow flashing lights indicate that a school bus is getting ready to stop and load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop-arm indicate that the bus is loading or unloading children. Motorists should stop and wait for the lights to stop flashing, the stop-arm to be withdrawn, and the bus to start moving before proceeding.
“Safety is our Department’s top priority, especially as it relates to protecting children,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “As a new school year begins across the country, we encourage all motorists to remain alert around school zones, school buses, and bus stops, being especially mindful of young pedestrians and bus riders. We also ask parents to teach children how to safely board and exit school buses by emphasizing the importance of watching for oncoming traffic and following the bus driver’s directions at all times.”