Students urged to avoid ‘distracted walking’ caused by hoodies and headphones.
CINCINNATI — With another school year just around the corner, First Student, Inc. reminds motorists that passing a school bus while it is loading and unloading children is illegal in all 50 states. And for good reason, the potential for serious injury caused by motorists passing a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing and stop-arm extended is extremely high.
School buses are the safest way to get to and from school; nearly 12 times safer than passenger vehicles according the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. First Student, the largest provider of student transportation in North America, says that buses today are safer than ever and have numerous safety features and equipment to protect students. Additionally, there are steps motorists and students can take to make boarding or disembarking the bus even safer.
The greatest danger riders face is getting on or off the bus. According to the School Bus Information Clearing House, a service of the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT), dozens of children are seriously injured each year in school bus-related pedestrian accidents. Making motorists aware of the laws and the risks when passing a stopped school bus will go a long way in helping to prevent these accidents. Avoiding distracted driving, especially during the morning and afternoon hours when buses are on the road, will too.
“The safety and security of the students we carry is our core value. Our nation’s school children are put at risk each time a motorist on the road decides to save a few seconds and illegally pass a stopped school bus,” says Linda Burtwistle, president of First Student. “It isunconscionable that tens of thousands of motorists illegally pass school buses every day.” In New York alone, it’s estimated that school buses stopped to load and unload children are passed illegally 50,000 times everyday statewide.
“Passing a stopped school bus that has its red lights flashing and stop arm extended while boarding or unloading is one of the leading violations involving motorists and school buses,” says Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers with more than 327,000 members. Cities and states across the nation, from New York to California, are taking steps to push for tougher laws and more stringent enforcement of stop arm violations. “Law enforcement agencies around the country are working with community leaders, schools, and transportation providers to reduce the number of stop arm violations,” Canterbury adds.
Students can also take steps to improve safety when getting on and off the bus. Paying attention, listening and looking both ways before stepping on or off the bus or crossing the street is simple but important advice. “Another problem we see emerging is ‘distracted walking,’ often caused by hoodies and headphones. These two popular items can impair students’ key senses when sweatshirt hoods block their full vision and loud music in earphones drown out other sounds. Students also are becoming increasingly distracted by texting and using other portable electronic devices,” adds Burtwistle.
First Student provides school districts industry leading expertise and implements best practices in safety so that educators can focus on education. For more back-to-school safety information and school bus safety tips, visit www.firststudentinc.com.