Montlick & Associates' Family Safety Advocate Jacquie Palisi shares essential safety tips for parents as children travel to and from school. Watch this week's video, and download important School Bus Safety materials for both parents and children.
Every year, approximately 440,000 public school buses travel more than 4 billion miles and daily transport 24 million children to and from schools and school-related activities. School buses account for an estimated 10 billion student trips each year. By all measures, school buses are the safest motor vehicles on the highways. School buses are required to meet more Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards than any other type of motor vehicle.
Getting on or off the bus is more dangerous than the ride itself. Many injuries occur when children walk into the driver's "blind spot," an area 10 feet around the bus. Most bus-related pedestrian deaths occur in the afternoon. More than 40 percent occur between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. when children are going home.
The main entrance area of schools is one of the most dangerous transportation zones.
Make sure children get to the bus stop at least five minutes early. Teach children to ask the bus driver for help if they drop something near the bus (if a child stoops to pick up something outside the bus, the driver cannot see the child). Teach them to take "five giant steps" out from the front of the bus before crossing the street.
Work with local police to enforce and publicize school bus laws for motorists. Most states require motorists in both directions to stop when a school bus displays flashing red warning lights and extends the stop signal arm. Vehicles may not legally pass until the flashing lights are turned off and the stop arm is retracted.
Work with school officials to create a safe school drop-off area. Arrange for crossing guards or help organize student safety patrols. Make crosswalks more visible by adding broad striped lines.
If the school drop-off zone has heavy traffic or a high speed limit, work with local officials to reduce speed limits and post flashing warning signs. Ask the police to hold high-profile enforcement actions in school zones and to alert the public about the laws and the dangers of driving too fast near schools.
Fewer than 1% of all homicides among school-age children occur on or around school grounds or on the way to and from school.
Among students surveyed in a 1999 CDC study:
Sources: The safety tips in this section were compiled from the following great internet resources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/)