With school beginning on Monday in Stokes County, Sheriff Mike Marshall offers safety advice for students and their families to remember this year when using the bus or walking to school.
Marshall said that although school buses represent the safest form of highway transportation, there are a number of safety factors that students and drivers should take into account. He encourages people to exercise caution whenever school buses are present.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of 19 school-aged children die in school transportation-related traffic crashes each year, and more school-aged pedestrians have been killed between the hours of 3 and 4 p.m. than any other time of day.
“Children are often eager to get off the school bus because they are excited to tell their parents about all of the fun they had at school that day,” said Marshall. “It is crucial that parents re-enforce the school bus safety rules children learn at school.”
Sheriff Marshall also suggests that parents drive their children’s bus route with them to practice the proper safety precautions they can take to help ensure their child enjoys a safe ride to and from school.
Marshall encourages all parents to discuss the following safety measures with their children:
• Always arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes early.
• While the bus is approaching make sure to stand at least three giant steps away from the curb, then wait until the bus has come to a complete stop, the door opens, and the bus driver says that it’s okay to board.
• Always walk on the sidewalk when preparing to cross the street near a bus. Make eye contact with the driver so that you are sure he or she sees you.
• Never walk behind the bus.
• If you are walking beside the bus, walk at least three giant steps away.
• Use the handrail when entering and exiting the bus. Take extra precautions to make sure that clothing with drawstrings and book bags do not get caught in the hand rail or door.
• Never stop to pick something up that you have dropped when a bus is stopped. Tell the bus driver or wait until the bus has driven off to avoid not being seen by the driver.
Motorists should remember the following:
• Children are unpredictable in their actions. Take extreme caution when traveling in a school zone.
• If there are no sidewalks, drive cautiously. Be more alert to the possibility of children walking in the road.
• Slow down and prepare to stop whenever you see yellow school bus lights flashing.
• Never pass a school bus when there are flashing red lights and the stop arm is extended. This is a sign that children are getting on or off the bus. Motorists must wait until the red lights stop flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and the bus is moving before they can start driving again.
• Learn and obey the school bus laws in North Carolina.
The sheriff also offers some safety tips for those youngsters who will be walking back and forth to school this year.
“Parents can teach their children the following safety tips which will inform the youngsters of the danger signs to watch for and avoid when walking between school and home,” said Marshall.
He offers the following advice:
• While walking, remember to always travel with a friend. Two heads are better than one, especially if there’s an emergency.
• A stranger is anyone you or your parents don’t know well.
• You or your friend must never take candy, money, medicine or anything else from a stranger.
• If a stranger in a car asks you questions, don’t get close to the car (you could get pulled in) and never get in the car.
• Strangers can be very tricky — they can ask you to walk with them to “show” them something; they can offer to pay for your video game, or ask you to help them find a lost dog or cat. Don’t be fooled!
• Don’t tell anyone your name or address when you’re walking and don’t think that because someone knows your name that they know you — they may just be looking at your name printed on your lunch box, school bag or T-shirt.
• If you think you’re in any danger, yell and run to the nearest store or “safe house” or back to school.
• Always tell your parents or teacher if a stranger has approached you.
“By taking the time to carefully prepare your child on how to handle these situations, you can insure your child’s safety whether they are on their way to school or home, playing on a playground or riding their bikes,” Marshall concludes.