According to the National Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), riding a school bus is safer than riding in a passenger vehicle or walking to school, yet each year more than 100 children die and over 25,000 are injured in school bus related accidents.
Most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related crashes are pedestrians four to seven years old who are hit by the bus or by motorists illegally passing a stopped school bus. Motorists need to know that:
- In all 50 states, it is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
- A school bus flashing yellow lights means that it is preparing to stop to load or unload children.
- Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm signals that the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off the bus.
- In all 50 states, traffic in both directions must stop on undivided roadways when students are entering or exiting a school bus.
- Motorists must stop their vehicles at least 10 feet from the bus to allow children the necessary space to safely enter and exit the bus.
- It is illegal to pass a school bus on the right.
Children are unpredictable and may fail to look both ways when crossing the street. They may believe that if they can see the driver, the driver can see them, so be alert and avoid distractions.
Parents also need to instruct their children about basic safety principles with simple, clear explanations. Dressing children who are pedestrians in bright clothes with reflective material on backpacks is another way to keep them safe.