Pedestrian Accidents Involving School-Age Children
Sometimes it takes a tragedy to really make people think, and that’s just what has happened when it comes to children’s safety around school bus stops. Within a few days in November 2018, five children were killed in accidents while either waiting at their bus stop or crossing the street to get on their school bus. This rash of pedestrian accident deaths promoted states to review traffic laws when it comes to school buses, and now there’s talk of increasing fines and even implementing jail time for drivers who ignore school bus traffic laws.
They were doing what they had done for many days prior: Walking across the street to get on their school bus. Yet five young children never made it. In three days, five children perished, which prompted an immediate reaction from federal officials imploring drivers across this country to slow down, abide by traffic laws when near a school bus, and be alert to their surroundings.
According to the deputy administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Heidi King, had drivers been paying attention, the accidents, more than likely, would have been avoidable. In the wake of these tragedies, driver inattention is what is getting attention as more parents, and even school bus drivers themselves, are calling police when they spot a driver ignoring traffic laws.
Some communities are now looking at strengthening current school bus laws to include increasing fines for breaking those laws or even adding jail time or license suspension.
Refresh Your Knowledge of School Bus Safety Laws
School buses have been in use in the U.S. for more than 100 years, and though they have co-existed with automobiles, a lot of motorists in cars and trucks still don’t know or fully understand traffic laws involving school buses. Every state, including Colorado, has specific laws that must be followed when near a school bus; some laws do vary according to rural vs. more congested areas, but there are some basics that everyone should know:
- When a bus has flashing yellow lights, that is an indication that the bus is preparing to make a stop. As a driver, you need to slow down and prepare to stop as well.
- When there is a red flashing light, that indicates the bus driver is about to extend a stop arm, which indicates that a child is about to either get on or off the bus. Not only are motorists required to stop, but vehicles should not start moving until the arm is retracted and the bus starts moving again.
There are many more laws, and again, the best way you as a driver can keep children safe is to learn the laws where you live. As NHTSA notes, students are 70 times more likely to make it to school safely if they are taking a school bus instead of a private vehicle, however; safety depends on other motorists and as well as those taking the school bus.
Parents should also make sure their child understands the dangers that can be lurking around a school bus stop, especially when getting on and off a bus. As highlighted by the National Safety Council, kids need to abide by rules as well, especially if they have to cross in front of a bus to get on it.
In order to prevent more tragic accidents like what occurred late last year, it’s going to take everyone learning the rules and, more importantly, abiding by them.