Tags: Education, Featured Story
"The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round" as they transport thousands of children to and from school each day, and the number one priority of all school bus drivers is making sure everyone arrives safely at their destinations. Nationally, each year, an average of 24 school-age children die in school transportation-related traffic accidents (11 occupants of school transportation vehicles and 13 pedestrians), according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Caleen Geissel, Kern County Superintendent of Schools (KCSOS) Transportation Field Supervisor, says there are many tips and safety procedures that help create a safe ride for all students and drivers. She has worked for KCSOS for 24 years - 12 years as a school bus driver and 12 years as a school bus driver instructor. In addition to the posted rules in each school bus, she recommends practicing the following safety tips:
Avoid Transporting Unnecessary Large Objects
Geissel says for the safety of all students, parents should remind children not to bring unnecessary large objects on the school bus. "Aisles, doors, or windows cannot be blocked," she says. "Backpacks seem to be getting bigger and bigger. They should be stowed under a seat or held in the student's lap."
Bus Stop Safety
According to the NHTSA, children are also at risk at bus stops where pedestrians are injured due to blind spots or oncoming traffic, especially when bus stops are located close to major roads. Be at your bus stop early, and if you're late, NEVER run toward a bus that is pulling away. And, when exiting the bus in the afternoon, remain a safe distance from the bus and do not "hang out" around the bus after getting off.
"The waiting students should be 12 feet from the bus when it comes to a bus stop. If children run or walk toward the bus, there is a chance the kids could trip or fall under the bus," Geissel says. "Same applies at a stop where students are leaving the bus (pm drop)."
Crossing the Road
When a school bus stops, the driver uses the red crossing lights, hand held stop sign, and if the bus is equipped, a stop sign will pop out from the side to stop oncoming traffic. "We also want parents to know that it is very dangerous to cross the road on which the school bus is stopped to get to (or exit from) a bus stop," Geissel says. "In VC 22112 it states that children must be crossed by the school bus driver."
Dropping off or Picking up in Loading Zones
When dropping off or picking up your students from school, make sure to follow the rules and avoid the loading zones which are marked for school-transportation use only. "Most schools have signs or orange cones warning parents not to enter areas designated for school bus loading and unloading," Geissel says. "This is often disregarded and can be very dangerous for the students."