The first few days of the school year are often a very hectic time. Parents and children both have to learn a new routine, especially if a new school is involved. When driving into a school zone during that first week, drivers pay close attention to their surroundings. Unfortunately, as the year becomes more routine, it can be easy to lose focus when driving near a school or school bus. This short lapse in concentration can result in serious injuries or death if an accident results.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration released statistics on the number of injuries and deaths caused in school bus-related crashes and related pedestrian accidents. From 2001 to 2009, there were 1,245 crashes that were labeled as school related. Over 1,300 people have died in these accidents.
Drivers know that they have to stop when a school bus has its red lights flashing. They also need to stop a safe distance away from the bus. Do not attempt to pass the bus while the red lights are flashing, because there may be children present. The bus driver will turn off the red lights when the child has reached a safe place, and only at that time should a motorist proceed.
However, even when the red lights are off, drivers need to exercise caution. When approaching or following a school bus, drivers need to be aware that children may be running into traffic with little to no warning. Young children sometimes forget that there are cars in the area, and run to or from the bus without looking for nearby vehicles. Many of these kinds of pedestrian accidents happen at the end of the school day when children might be in a hurry to get home.
No one ever wants to get into an accident. Motorists can help improve safety simply by slowing down when they are close to a school. By increasing awareness when in school zones, drivers can help reduce the number of serious accidents that occur.