Keep the roadways safe during back-to- school times

General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC) made a study and found out that 94 million American drivers are unclear on school

bus roadway rules. The study polled 5,175 licensed American drivers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The study also revealed that 93% could correctly identify, that when approaching a stopped school bus with flashing red lights, drivers must stop, but nearly 47% underestimated the recommended distance a car should stop (rule of thumb: at least 20 feet or 11/2 car lengths).
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), over the next few weeks, 25 million students will be heading back to school, with an average of 500,000 buses on the road. Statistically, this is one of the safest modes of transportation, but when accidents do occur, they most often involve pedestrian passengers as they are loading and unloading from the school bus. NHTSA research depicts that more than twice as many children are killed in school bus accidents while getting on or off it than riding it;
According to Sheena Poe, chief claims officer for GMAC, parents need to recognize children’s traffic habits, as she oversees thousands of accident reports each year. She stated that young children are more likely to get hit because they:
Hurry to the bus
Act before thinking, as they have limited experience with traffic
Move out of the bus driver’s sight
Drop something and run into the path of vehicles to pick it up
Gary Kusumi, CEO and President of GMAC, states that “the consequences of these dangerous behaviors are too great to ignore.” He further stated that, as drivers, it’s up to us to pay attention and exert extra caution.
as kids head back to school and we should be teaching kids to do their part for roadway safety, it isn’t all up to them to stay safe.
1.      Stay stopped. When a school bus stops and displays its red flashing lights, come to a stop until the lights are no longer flashing or until signaled to proceed by the bus driver or police officer.
2.      Don’t pass. It is illegal to pass on the right side of the bus where children are loading and unloading. In many places, school bus drivers can report a passing vehicle.
3.      Be attentive. Children may run into the street heading home or to the playground without realizing that there are drivers nearby.
4.      Go slow. Obey the posted speed limits in school zones where children are walking or playing and pay attention to crossing guards.
5.      Keep back. The recommended distance drivers following a school bus should stop is at least 20 feet (or at least 1 1/2 car lengths).
6.      Seen and be seen. Children should stop at least 10 feet away from the school bus and never go behind it. They should take 5 giant steps in front of the bus before crossing to ensure the driver can see them.
7.      Stay on the sidewalk. Make sure your children stay somewhere safe like the sidewalk or in the driveway and out of the street while waiting on the bus.
8.      Look before you leap. Teach your child how to cross the street safely. Practice left-right-left and make sure to check for turning vehicles as well.
9.      Get an early start. As a general rule, children under 10 should always be supervised when crossing the street. Though children are typically unfit to handle tricky traffic scenarios until this age, you can help prepare your children by practicing safe traffic habits at a younger age.
10.  Practice what you preach. Children learn by example, so the best way to teach them safe habits is to follow them yourself.

Written by: Ted Gordon, Risk Submitted by: Juli Hughes, County Coordinator
MSU Extension Service – Choctaw