School buses are among the safest modes of transportation because of their strict construction standards which include compartmentalization crash protection, thick seats, fuel tank protections, and their bright yellow color. However, many accidents occur when a child is boarding or deboarding a school bus, walking to and from the bus stop, and while waiting for the bus.
Sadly, the media is rife with stories of children being struck by motorists at school bus stops:
In North Carolina earlier this year, a five-year-old boy was struck by a police car while waiting for the bus when he ran out in the road.
Earlier this month in Cleveland, OH, five children lost their lives—and seven more were injured—in separate incidents when they were struck by motorists near their school bus stops.
In Indiana, a woman struck and killed three siblings and injured another boy when she struck them with her vehicle as they waited for their school bus.
In Mississippi, a nine-year-old boy died after being struck by a truck while he was boarding his bus.
Five children and two adults were struck by a vehicle in Florida while waiting for a school bus.
A seven-year-old girl was struck and killed by a pickup truck while deboarding her school bus.
And the list goes on. In fact, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), the greatest risk to school-aged children is not riding the bus, but in approaching or leaving one. Among the greatest threats are motorists who fail to observe school bus lights and other safety regulations.
In order to keep your child(ren) safe while walking to and from, boarding and deboarding, and waiting for the bus, here are several important recommendations.
Tips for parents/students
Your child should arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the scheduled arrival. Take your child to the bus stop and show him/her where to wait—the NHTSA recommends children wait at least three giant steps (or six feet) away from the curb. Stress to your child the importance of not running, rough-housing, or playing at the bus stop. Wait with your child if at all possible.
Next, inform your child that s/he should wait until the bus makes a complete stop, the driver opens the door, and the driver tells your child it is safe to board.
Third, your child should never walk behind a school bus. If crossing the street is necessary, your child should cross in front of the bus, approximately five giant steps (or ten feet), and make eye contact with the driver before doing so. Similarly, if your child drops something near the bus, tell your child to inform the bus driver and not try to pick up the item, especially if it’s behind the bus.
When getting on and off the bus, inform your child to:
Allow younger and smaller students to get on first
Use the handrail
Make a single-file line
Secure loose items
Proceed directly to his/her seat
Keep arms, legs, backpacks, and other objects out of the aisle
Never yell or scream
Immediately leave the “danger zone” that is ten feet surrounding the bus when deboarding
Not return to the bus if s/he forgot something, but tell the driver instead
Tips for motorists
Of primary importance is learning and obeying school bus laws and the signal light system that drivers use to alert motorists. More specifically, yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop, and red flashing lights with the extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped and children are boarding and/or deboarding. You must stop your car and wait until the lights are off, the extended arm is withdrawn, AND the bus begins moving before you may proceed.
It is also critical to slow down in school zones and keep an eye out for children. Further, be alert to some children who may be late arriving for the bus who may run into the street without looking first.
When leaving a garage or backing out of a driveway, keep an eye out for children who may be walking or riding their bicycles to school.
We can help
If your child was injured at a school bus stop, on a school bus, or in any other type of vehicular accident, please contact Venus Poe today at 864.963.0310 or fill out an online case evaluation form. We have offices in Greenville and Fountain Inn, South Carolina to better serve you. Knowing your rights is imperative to ensure you and your loved ones are fully compensated for your injuries and other losses and that your child’s safety and well-being is protected. Also, there is no obligation or charge for our initial consultation to see if we can assist you with your case.
The information you obtain in this article is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should not read this article to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken to you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice in the jurisdiction in which you may have a case.