The National Safety Council says about 25 million students nationwide, take the bus to and from school every day. They also say unfortunately, each year many children are injured and several are killed in school bus incidents. That's why national safety groups and local school bus safety experts want you to talk with your kids about riding the bus safely. If you don't have children these experts want to make sure you are aware of children and school buses when you are out on the road.
Kevin Hansen, the Safety Director for School Bus Inc. in Sioux Falls says drivers are required to stop for a bus when the bus is stopped, unloading or loading passengers. Even with the lights flashing Hansen says drivers still drive around the bus or don't stop at all every single year. He says this is a very dangerous thing to do and encourages all drivers to be patient and aware of children and buses.
With this in mind safety experts say parents should teach their children to be aware of other drivers on the road who may not stop for the bus. Safety experts say kids should wait for the bus at a safe distance from the street. They should not roughhouse or play in the street while waiting for the bus. They also shouldn't wear all dark clothing, which will make them harder to spot for drivers. Experts say kids should never approach the bus until it comes to a complete stop and the door opens. This way the school bus stop sign and lights will be flashing before your child crosses the street. Experts also say kids should look both ways before crossing the street.
Kevin Hansen says drivers need to be aware that buses will be back out on the roads. In Sioux Falls he says about 75 to 80 buses are out at a time. This means drivers need to be alert. Hansen says drivers need to expect buses to make sudden stops. He also says if kids are running late they might run into the street without looking for traffic.
While on the bus safety experts say it is important for kids to sit down quietly. Loud talking or other noise can distract the bus driver. Kids shouldn't put their head or arms out of the bus window. They should also keep their bags out of the aisle.
When getting off the bus experts say your kids should wait until the bus is completed stopped before getting out of their seat. They should use the handrail while getting off the bus. The National Safety Council says if your child has to cross the street they should walk at least ten feet ahead of the bus along the side of the road until they can turn around and see the driver. Then they say they should wait for a signal from the driver before beginning to cross the street. Before crossing the center line they should look both ways again.
KSFY wishes all families a safe start to the new school year.