While we are still in the middle of the summer heat, summer break is almost over for our kids. In a couple of weeks, school buses will be on the road and kids will be on the sides of our streets. According to the Kentucky Department of Education, 385,000 kids are transported to and from school every school day in Kentucky on nearly 10,000 school buses. That’s a lot of kids and a lot of buses. Let’s discuss school bus safety.
We have been traveling to a from work for the past few months without having to worry about school buses on the road or children getting on and off the buses. Locally, the schools start back on August 7th. So, we all need to make sure we pay attention to not only the school buses on the roads, but also to kids waiting on the sides of the roads for the school bus to arrive and to kids walking to and from school.
You may remember that last October, 3 kids were killed in one incident in Indiana after getting off the school bus. A driver ignored the stopped school bus and hit the kids. Unfortunately, kids are injured or killed every year because of drivers passing a stopped bus while children are loading or unloading. This is tragic and 100% preventable. School bus safety is a serious issue.
Not only is it unsafe to pass a stopped school bus that is picking up or dropping of children, it is also AGAINST THE LAW. If you pass a stopped bus while the STOP sign is out, you can be fined. If a child gets injured because of it, you could be facing jail time. If the parents call a personal injury attorney like myself, then you are also going to be sued to pay for the medical bills and other damages you caused. Even if the bus is going in the opposite direction from you, you cannot go past a bus when it is stopped to pick up or drop off children.
The Kentucky Department of Education website indicates that they ask kids to be at the pick-up spot five minutes before the bus is expected to arrive. While they advise that kids should stay back 10 -12 feet from the road, as drivers, we need to expect that some kids may not follow those instructions. As drivers, there are things we can do to practice school bus safety:
- Plan on leaving for work a little earlier.
- Slow down.
- Keep an eye out for kids on the side of the road.
- When you see a school buses yellow flashing lights come on, go ahead and start stopping.
- Never go by a bus when it is stopped to load or unload children.
Parents of kids that are going to be riding a bus or walking to school, there are things you can do as well.
- Make sure your kids no to stay back at least 10 feet from the road until the bus has completely stopped.
- Make sure they know to look for other vehicles on the road, especially if they have to cross the road to load or unload.
- Have at least one adult out with the kids to wait for the bus and to be there when the kids get off the bus.
As a parent, I know the mix of feelings you may be having as you prepare to send your daughter or son back to school.
- If they’re just beginning, you might feel a bit anxious about how both of you are going to handle the transition.
- If your child is a bit older, you might be hoping they really excel this year.
- And, if your teen is heading back to high school, you might be relieved that they’re actually leaving the basement – at least for a few hours of the day. (Smile)
For those of you with teenagers who may be driving to school, you know from experience that the potential distractions are endless. There are radio stations to tune, calls to make and even other conversations inside the car, each of which could lead to distractions and potential tragedies. Make sure you talk with your child about being aware of kids on the side of the road and aware of the rules of the road regarding school buses. It only takes a few minutes to talk with your children about the risks of driving to and from school. But, it’s an important conversation to have, as we all try to get back into the swing of things.
Good luck to the students this year! I hope it’s one full of growth, success and many happy memories. Let’s all do our best to make sure our students are safe when they travel to and from school.