Kids, the School Bus, and You
The Danger Zone
The Danger Zone is the area on all sides of the bus where children are in the most danger of being hit. Children should stay 10 feet away from the bus (or as far away as they can) and never go behind it. They should take ten giant steps in front of the bus before crossing, so they can be seen by the driver.
The greatest risk is not when riding in the bus, but approaching or leaving the bus. While an average of 7 school-age passengers are killed in school bus crashes each year, 19 are killed getting on and off the bus. Most of those killed are children, five to seven years old. They are hit in the Danger Zone around the bus (A), either by a passing vehicle or by the school bus itself. It's illegal for a vehicle to pass a bus with its red lights flashing.
Young children are most likely to be hit because 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
- Drop something as they get off the bus and run into the path of the bus to pick it up
- When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.
- When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch out for young people who may be thinking about getting to school, but may not be thinking about getting there safely.
- Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood.
- Watch for children playing and congregating near bus stops.
- Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
- Learn and obey the "alternately flashing warning light" system that school bus drivers use to alert motorists.
- Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop vehicles.
- Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped, and that children are getting on or off. Motorists approaching from either direction must wait until the red lights stop flashing before proceeding.
Attention Parents – Teach Your Children:
TEACH CHILDREN TO FOLLOW THESE COMMON SENSE PRACTICES TO MAKE SCHOOL BUS TRANSPORTATION SAFER.
- Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
- When the bus approaches, stand at least three giant steps (6 feet) away from the curb, and line up away from the street.
- Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says it's okay before stepping onto the bus.
- When getting on the bus, stay away from the danger zone and wait for the driver's signal. Board the bus one at a time.
- When getting off the bus, look before stepping off the bus to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder (side of the road). Move away from the bus.
- Before crossing the street, take five "giant steps" out from the front of the bus, or until the driver's face can be seen (A). Wait for the driver to signal that it's safe to cross.
- Look left-right-left when coming to the edge of the bus to make sure traffic is stopped. Keep watching traffic when crossing.
- Use the handrails to avoid falls. When exiting the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings, and bookbags with straps don't get caught in the handrails or doors.
- Never walk behind the bus.
- Walk at least three giant steps away from the side of the bus.
- If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.
- Supervise children to make sure they get to the stop on time, wait far away from the road, and avoid rough play.
- If you think a bus stop is in a dangerous place, talk with your school office or transportation director about changing the location.
LEARN AND FOLLOW SCHOOL BUS STOP LAWS:
Laws exist to protect children getting on and off the bus AND protect you from a tragedy. Check with your school or police department for more information on your state's laws. Here are some rules:
- Vehicles must stop when the bus displays flashing red warning lights and extends the stop signal arm. Vehicles may not pass until the flashing red lights and signals are turned off.
- Vehicles traveling in the same direction as the bus are always required to stop. In some states, vehicles moving in the opposite direction on a divided roadway are also required to stop.
- Never pass on the right side of the bus, where children enter or exit. This is illegal and can have tragic results.
- Violation of these laws can result in a citation and fine. In many places, school bus drivers can report passing vehicles.