AAA Warns Motorists and Students about Dangers
Getting On and Off the School Bus
Recent Tragedies Underscore Need for Motorists to Avoid Distractions, Slow Down and Watch for Children
Hamilton, NJ, November 5, 2018- School bus related crashes claimed the lives of five children and hospitalized six other students last week in five separate crashes in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Mississippi, and Florida. These preventable crashes serve as a somber reminder about the importance of school bus safety.
Motorists need to be particularly diligent about slowing down, avoiding distractions and staying alert during the morning and afternoon hours when school buses are more likely to be on the road, reminds AAA.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the school bus is the safest vehicle on the road, keeping your child safer while traveling to and from school than traveling by car.
“The greatest risk to your child is not riding a bus, but approaching or leaving one,” said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “It’s important that parents, students, teachers, motorists, school bus operators, school administrators, and other safety advocates join forces to build awareness of the importance of school bus safety.”
Every day, about 500,000 school buses transport more than 23 million students to and from school. However, each year, nationally, about 24 school aged children are killed in school transportation-related traffic crashes.
“In addition to following the rules of the road, motorists are also reminded to put away phones and other distractions to keep focused on the road as buses can stop and start frequently, picking up and dropping off students,” Noble added. “Changing weather conditions and shortened daylight hours can make for particularly dangerous situations.”
AAA offers these tips for students taking the bus and for motorists sharing the road:
While Waiting at the Bus Stop
- Have children wait in a location where the bus driver can easily see them while driving down the street.
- Do not let children play in or near the street. Playing with balls or other toys that could roll into the street is also dangerous.
- Stand at least five giant steps (10 feet) away from the edge of the road.
- Children should be reminded to obey crossing guards, police officers or supervising adults, if present.
Getting On and Off the Bus
- Children should wait until the bus comes to a complete stop, the door opens, and the driver says its okay before approaching the bus door to get onto or off the bus.
- Warn children that if they drop something getting on and off the bus, they should never attempt to pick it up. Instead, they should tell the driver and follow the driver’s instructions.
- Remind children to stop at the edge of the bus and look left and right before crossing.
- Children should never walk behind a school bus. If a child must cross the street in front of the bus, instruct them walk on a sidewalk or along the side of the street to a place at least five giant steps (10 feet) in front of the bus before crossing. Your child should also make eye contact with the bus driver before crossing to make sure the driver can see him/her.
- If waiting for a child at the bus stop after school, wait on the side where the child will be dropped off, not across the street. Children often dash across the street and forget the safety rules.
- Slow down. Watch for children walking to and from the bus stop as well as standing at the bus stop. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if the neighborhood has no sidewalks.
- Be mindful when backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage. Watch for children walking or bicycling to school.
- Yellow flashing lights on a school bus mean that a bus is preparing to stop. Do not try to pass the bus! Begin slowing and prepare to stop your vehicle.
- Red flashing lights indicate that a bus has stopped to load or unload children. Stop your car and wait for the bus lights to stop flashing before moving your vehicle. Passing a loading or unloading school bus is reckless driving.
For motorists, being caught behind a school bus can be frustrating and may require additional patience at times. It is important to know that all 50 states have laws surrounding school bus safety and ignoring those laws can result in hefty fines. AAA’s Digest of Motor Laws provides information on each state’s law related to buses.
In New Jersey, there are two rules to remember about traveling on the roadways with buses:
- The driver of a vehicle approaching or overtaking a school bus that has stopped to receive or discharge any child on an undivided road, must stop not less than 25 feet from the bus and remain stopped until such child has entered the bus or exited and reached the side of the road and until a flashing red light is no longer exhibited by the bus.
- If the driver of a vehicle is on a divided road approaching from the front of a bus that has stopped to receive or discharge a child, the driver must slow his vehicle to not more than 10 mph until the vehicle has passed the bus and any child that may have disembarked from the bus.
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and nearly two million members in New Jersey.AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. AAA is a non-stock, non-profit corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visitwww.AAA.com.
AAA Mid-Atlantic News is onFacebook - please Like us!
Follow us on Twitter@AAANJNEWS