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School bus safety: Does your child know the rules?

Rowan County Sheriff’s Office

Every day, millions of students use school buses as transportation to and from school. Although school buses represent the safest form of highway transportation, there are a number of safety factors of which both student and drivers should be aware.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of 134 people die in school transportation-related traffic crashes each year, and more school-aged pedestrians have been killed during the hours of 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. than any other time of day.

“Children are often eager to get off the school bus because they are excited to tell their parents about all of the fun they had at school that day,” said Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten. “It is crucial that parents reinforce the school bus safety rules children learn at school.”

Auten also suggests that parents drive their child’s bus route with them to practice the proper safety precautions they can take to help ensure their child enjoys a safe ride to and from school.

Auten encourages all parents to discuss the following safety measures with their children:

  • Always arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes early.
  • While the bus is approaching, make sure to stand at least three giant steps away from the curb and wait until the bus has come to a complete stop, the door opens and the bus driver says that it’s OK to board.
  • Always walk on the sidewalk when preparing to cross the street near a bus. Make eye contact with the driver so that you are sure he or she sees you.
  • Never walk behind the bus.
  • If you are walking beside the bus, walk at least three giant steps away.
  • Use the handrail when entering and exiting the bus. Take extra precautions to make sure that clothing with drawstrings and book bags do not get caught in the handrail or door.
  • Never stop to pick something up that you have dropped when a bus is stopped. Tell the bus driver or wait until the bus has driven off to avoid not being seen by the driver.

Motorists must also be mindful when school buses are on the road. Here are some safety tips for drivers as well:

  • Remember that children are unpredictable in their actions. Take extreme caution when traveling in a school zone.
  • If there are no sidewalks, drive cautiously. Be more alert to the possibility of children walking in the road.
  • Slow down and prepare to stop whenever you see yellow school bus lights flashing.
  • Never pass a school bus when there are flashing red lights and the stop arm is extended. This is a sign that children are getting on or off the bus. Motorists must wait until the red lights stop flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and the bus is moving before they can start driving again.
  • Learn and obey the school bus laws in North Carolina.

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