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School bus safety: Does your child know the rules?

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. Hoping to ensure school bus safety, Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten encourages caution whenever school buses are present.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an average of 19 school-aged children die in school transportation-related traffic crashes each year and more school-aged pedestrians have been killed between the hours of 3 p.m. and 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 Auten. “It is crucial that parents re-enforce 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.

Safety measures for parents and students are:

Student safety tips

  • 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, 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 hand rail 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.

Tips for motorists

  • Remember that children are unpredictable in their actions. Take extreme caution when traveling in a school zone.
  • Don’t drive distracted. Dangerous practices behind the wheel, like eating, grooming, texting and talking on the phone, take a driver’s eyes off the road and can have devastating consequences.
  • Check the medians. Traffic in both directions must stop on undivided roadways when students are entering or exiting a school bus. On a divided roadway, traffic behind the school bus must stop.
  • Remember to leave extra room. The area 10 feet around a school bus is where children are in the most danger of getting hit. Stop your car far enough from the bus to allow children the necessary space to safely enter and exit the bus.
  • Drivers should not block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn. Leave pedestrians with plenty of room to cross safely.
  • 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.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

For further information, contact Sergeant Scott Flowers at 704-216-8732

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