Nine simple words.
Yet, they carry a powerful message ... one targeting a most precious resource — our children.
It is National School Bus Safety Week — Oct. 18-22 — and the subject caught our attention thanks to the Tennessee Highway Patrol whose safety-conscious organization has thrown its support behind this worthy initiative.
THP has joined the cause with a unified vision — to highlight the importance of school bus safety awareness and education.
For starters, did you know riding a school bus is one of the safest modes of transportation available? Undoubtedly, it’s due in part because of the built-in safety components — “big” and “yellow.”
The safety hazard involving school buses is when children get on and off the bus. That’s the big focus of concern and it’s what Tennessee Commissioner of Safety Dave Mitchell is stressing with THP’s involvement in the special week. Says Mitchell, “ ... It is critical for parents, teachers and school administrators to stress the importance of crossing in view of the school bus driver, and to instruct children on other safety tips that will keep them out of harm’s way.”
We have said this before, but it bears repeating. In fact, when it comes to the safety of our children, we will repeat it as frequently as needed.
When it comes to our children — as well as their parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and all others — safety should be paramount in the minds of all.
It is a matter of natural priorities.
It is estimated that each day some 480,000 school buses in the U.S. transport more than 26 million children to and from schools, and to and from school-related activities. This information is made available by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
U.S. DOT also tells us on average 19 school-aged children die in school transportation-related traffic crashes each year. Of these 19, five are school bus occupants and 14 are pedestrians. Most of the children killed in these tragic accidents are age 5 to 7.
Consider this. The “danger zone” for a school bus is the immediate 10-foot perimeter surrounding the vehicle. The two most dangerous places are the front and the right rear tire area of the bus. For these reasons, children should take particular caution when boarding or leaving a school bus.
Specifically, children should:
- Always remain in direct eyesight of the bus driver.
- Be alert to traffic; check both ways before stepping off the bus.
- Make eye contact with the bus driver and wait for the bus driver’s signal before crossing the street.
- Walk in front of the bus; never walk behind the bus to cross the street.
- Never go under the bus to retrieve something you’ve dropped.
n Get to the bus stop in plenty of time.
THP has a dual purpose for endorsing National School Bus Safety Week. First, our state troopers want to educate children on school bus safety and how to make it a top priority. And two, the organization wants to remind motorists to slow down in school zones and to obey the stop arm and flashing lights of a school bus.
Failure to heed this warning can land a motorist a huge citation. But most importantly, ignoring school bus safety laws places the lives of our children at unnecessary risk.
Remember the law.
Remember the importance of safety.
But most of all, remember our children.
Because they are your children.