Some 25 million students nationwide begin and end their day with a trip on a school bus. School buses are designed for safety, with flashing lights, giant mirrors, high seat backs and that bright yellow color, and they keep
more than 17 million cars away from school buildings every day.
But even though
school buses are considered the safest way to get to and from school, causing only 1 percent of all student fatalities during school travel times, it's important to follow safety precautions.
Injury Facts 2015, a
statistical report on unintentional injuries produced by the National Safety Council, in 2013, a total of 130 people were killed in school bus-related incidents. Four were bus passengers, 22 were pedestrians and 95 were occupants in other vehicles. Of the 9,000 total school bus-related injuries in 2012, 2,000 were school bus passengers, 6,000 were occupants of other vehicles and fewer than 500 were pedestrians.
Why Aren't Seat Belts Mandated?
Smaller, Type A school buses weighing less than 5 tons are federally required to have seat belts, but larger buses are not. Only six states – California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Texas – have passed laws requiring them on large buses.
People may wonder why seat belts are not federally mandated on all school buses. They've been proven to save lives in cars, so what's the holdup?
NHTSA took the position in a 2006 report that
the design of school buses makes them inherently safer than cars, and there is insufficient evidence to show they would save lives and prevent injuries. The group also cited the high cost, estimated at more than $2 billion.
But the tide may be turning again. On Jan. 30, 2015, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind, who was appointed in December 2014, said he is taking a fresh look at the issue.
"Seat belts unquestionably safe lives," he told Good Morning America.
Tips for a Safe Ride
About eight school-age children are killed each year while walking near school transportation vehicles, and
more school-age pedestrians have been killed during the hour before and after school than any other time of day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Although all drivers are required to stop for a school bus when it's loading or unloading passengers, children should not rely on them to do so. National Safety Council urges parents to teach their children the following rules for school bus safety.
Getting On the Bus
- When waiting for the bus, stay away from traffic and avoid roughhousing or other behavior that can lead to carelessness
- Do not stray onto the street, alleys or private property
- Line up away from the street or road as the bus approaches
- Wait until the bus has stopped and the door opens before approaching the bus
- Use the handrail when boarding
Behavior on the Bus
- Don't speak loudly or make loud noises that could distract the driver
- Stay in your seat
- Don't put your head, arms or hands out the window
- Keep aisles clear of books and bags
- Get your belongings together before reaching your stop
- Wait for the bus to stop completely before getting up from your seat
Getting Off the Bus
- Use the handrail when exiting
- If you have to cross in front of the bus, first walk at least 10 feet ahead until you can see the driver
- Make sure the driver can see you
- Wait for a signal from the driver before crossing
- When the driver signals, look left, right, then left again. Walk across the road and keep an eye out for sudden traffic changes
- If your vision is blocked, move to an area where you can see other drivers and they can see you
- Do not cross the center line of the road until the driver signals it is safe
- Stay away from the rear wheels of the bus at all times