An Indianapolis fourth grader at Spring Mill Elementary school was killed last week after being struck by a bus. The child, Christopher Beltz, was hit after he was dropped off a bus and then reportedly ran into the path of another. Indianapolis police are currently investigating the incident.
As a father of two elementary school aged children, reports like this hit very close to home. Last year, I published an article regarding school bus safety which seems particularly relevant given last week’s tragedy. Below is the article which contains useful information for kids, parents and motorists.
SCHOOL BUS SAFETY
The presence of yellow school buses taking children to and from school is a familiar sight for everyone on the road this time of year. While traveling behind these school buses can pose unexpected delays for motorists, it is important that everyone exercise the utmost caution when encountering a school bus to ensure that everyone remains safe.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) studies have revealed that school buses are a very safe mode of transportation for children. NHTSA reports that American students are almost eight times safer riding in a school bus than with their own parents or guardians in cars. In fact, the fatality rate for school buses is only 0.2 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, compared to 1.5 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled for cars.
While it is very rare for children to be seriously injured or killed while riding on a bus, the National Research Council of the National Academy for Sciences has determined that for every one instance where a child is killed on a school bus, three children are injured getting on or off the bus as pedestrians. Obviously, it is important for motorists to remain constantly on the lookout and exercise extreme caution when they encounter a stopped school bus.
Under Indiana Law, the driver of a vehicle meeting or overtaking, from either direction, any school bus stopped on a roadway must stop before reaching the school bus if its warning arm signal is in its extended position. Drivers may not proceed until the arm signal is no longer extended. However, drivers do not have to stop, but may proceed with due caution of the safety of children, on divided highways if the school bus is on the opposite side of the divided highway.
If you have a child or loved one riding a school bus, it is important that they take steps to ensure their own safety. The NHTSA recommends the following for school bus riders:
1. Getting to the bus stop • Always get to the bus stop at least 5 minutes before the bus is due to arrive.
• Running across the road to catch the bus isn’t smart.
• If you have to walk on roads where there’s no sidewalk, always walk against traffic.
• When crossing the street to get to the bus, always look left, then right, then left again. If there are parked cars blocking your view, go to the nearest corner cross walk.
2. Getting on the bus • When the bus approaches, do the smart thing: step back and stand at least THREE GIANT STEPS away from the curb. That way the bus driver can pull up to the curb so you won’t have to walk out in the street to get on.
• Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says its okay to board before stepping onto the bus.
• Never walk behind the bus or close to the side of the bus. You could be in the driver’s blind spot.
• If you drop something near the bus, don’t pick it up until you tell the bus driver or he may not see you.
• When you get on the bus, take your seat quickly.
3. While you’re riding the bus • When the bus is moving, always stay in your seat.
• Let the bus driver concentrate on the road. Just imagine how hard it would be to pay attention to the road with 30 students talking all at once!!! Remember, the bus driver’s job is to get you to and from school safely.
4. Getting off the bus • When you leave the bus, use the handrail. It’ll help you avoid a fall.
• Make sure there’s nothing sticking out of your backpack that could get caught in the handrail or the bus door.
• If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk (or along the side of the road) to a point that’s at least 5 giant steps ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure the bus driver can see you, and that you can see the bus driver.
Hopefully, by following these steps and exercising patience and good common sense, Boone County students will enjoy another accident free year.
by: Tony Patterson