From 2011 to 2020, there were 1.6 times more fatalities among pedestrians than occupants of school buses in bus-related crashes (Photo: The Post)
In support of National School Bus Safety Week, October 17-21, 2022, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is working with the Cheatham County Sheriff’s Office, the Cheatham County School District, and other local law enforcement to remind drivers about the importance of school bus safety.
In every State, it is illegal to pass a school bus while the school bus stop-arm is extended and the red lights are flashing. Although the school bus is one of the safest modes of transportation, illegal school bus passing is a deadly risk to bus riders and their caretakers. Drivers should always come to a complete stop when a school bus stop-arm is extended and the red lights are flashing.
Statistically, school buses are the safest way to transport school children. Yet more injuries and fatalities occur outside of or near a school bus because a motorist has failed to obey the stop-arm warning or to follow local traffic laws. From 2011 and 2020, there were 1.6 times more fatalities among pedestrians (183) than occupants of school buses (113) in school-bus-related crashes. A total of 218 school-age children (18 and younger) died in school-bus-related crashes during that period, either as occupants of school buses or other vehicles, or on foot or bike. Of the 218 deaths, 85 were children who were walking.
“It is so important that drivers in our community heed the school bus stop-arm laws,” said Sheriff Tim Binkley. “They are not a suggestion.” In fact, yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.” Sheriff Binkley continued, “Motorists should be fully stopped in front and behind the school bus when the red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended. Motorists may begin moving only when the red flashing lights are turned off, the stop arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins to move. School bus riders and their caretakers are relying on drivers to follow the law to keep them safe.”
Respect the “Danger Zone”
The school bus loading and unloading area is called the “Danger Zone.” Specifically, this is any side of the bus where a child may not be seen by the bus driver and, therefore, is in the most danger. These areas include:
10 feet in front of the bus, where the driver may be sitting too high to see a child
10 feet on either side of the bus, where a child may be in the driver’s blind spots
Behind the school bus
“Some kids are hit by vehicles because they are in a hurry to get on and off the bus,” said Sheriff Binkley. “Children are at greater risk, since they assume motorists will see them and will wait for them to cross the street.”
Let’s work together to keep our children safe as they wait to ride the bus to and from school. Slow down and obey the signs.
For more information about school bus stop safety, please visit www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/school-bus-safety#the-topic-bus-stop-safety.