As school districts across the country crack down on drivers who ignore warnings while passing stopped school buses, parent’s are still encouraged to teach their children about how to best protect themselves.
The crackdown comes as a response to a week in early November where five children died while waiting for school buses countrywide. Now, schools and police departments are installing cameras and paying closer attention to buses and bus stops.
In Illinois, several schools are adding cameras to catch drivers in the act and some departments are randomly shadowing buses throughout their route.
According to the Illinois State Board of Education, on average, 33 school-age children die in school bus-related traffic crashes each year nationwide. Most of the children killed are pedestrians, five to seven years old and are struck within what the board calls the school buses “danger zone” and are either struck by the bus they’re waiting for or a passing vehicle violating the bus stop arm or other warning signs.
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The “danger zone” also known as the more ominous “death zone,” is the area on all sides of the bus where children are most at risk of being hit. The state says children should stay at least 10 feet away from the bus and never go behind it.
The report also said children are likely to be hit by a vehicle because of they:
hurry to get on or off the bus
act before they think and have little experience with traffic
assume motorists will see them and will wait for them to cross
don’t always stay within the bus driver’s sight.
The report recommends parents take time to teach their children about how to safely be around, get on and get off the bus.
The state advises parents do the following to make sure their children are as safe as can be at bus stops and while getting on and off the bus:
- Supervise children to make sure they get to the stop on time, wait far away from the road and avoid rough play.
- Teach your child to ask the driver for help if they drop something near the bus. If a child stops to pick something up, the driver cannot see them and the child could be struck by the bus.
- If you think a bus stop is in a dangerous place, talk with your school office or transportation director about changing the location.
- When loading, stay away from the danger zone and wait for the driver’s signal. Board the bus in single file.
- When unloading, look before stepping off the bus to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder. Move away from the bus.
- Before crossing the street, take five “giant steps” out from the front of the bus until you see the driver’s face. The driver will signal you when it is safe to cross the roadway.
- Look left-right-left when coming to the edge of the bus to make sure traffic is stopped. Continue to watch for traffic when crossing.
For more information on Illinois bus safety and statistics visit https://www.isbe.net.