Make safety a priority for ‘National School Bus Safety Week’

October 21, 2014 | 9:39 am


Each day, thousands of buses leave their stations to pick up and carry some of our nation’s most precious cargo. It’s important other drivers on the road are extra careful when driving around these vehicles.

Schools across the country this week are recognizing “National School Bus Safety Week,” held this year from Oct. 20 to 24. And school and public safety officials are urging everyone — including parents, students, teachers, motorists, school bus drivers, school administrator and others — to make safety a priority this week.

The Bakersfield-based personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, too, is promoting safety around Kern County school buses.

School buses continue to be the safest mode of transportation for getting children back and forth to school, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. In fact, students are 50 times more likely to arrive at school alive if they take the bus than if they drive themselves or ride with friends. And according to the National Safety Council, school buses are 172 times safer than the family car.

Still, accidents involving school buses can happen. Studies have proven that the most dangerous part of the school bus ride for children is when they get on and off the bus, according to the California School Employees Association (CSEA), which receives law firm benefits through the Group Law Services program with Chain | Cohn | Stiles. CSEA, which represents more than 8,500 school bus drivers and other transportation workers, is a leader in advocating for student safety in California, including sponsoring the 1968 law that requires all buses to carry the “Stop when Red Lights Flash” sign.

Here are school bus safety-related tips for all motorists can take into account:

Parents and Children

  • If your child rides the school bus, walk with him or her to the bus stop and wait until the school bus arrives.
  • When the bus approaches, stand at least six feet away and wait until the bus stops, the door opens and the driver says that it’s okay before stepping onto the bus.
  • If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk at least 10 feet in front of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you and you can see the bus driver.
  • Use the handrails to avoid falls. When exiting the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps don’t get caught in the handrails or doors.
  • Never walk behind the bus. If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Don’t try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.

Motorists

  • Learn and obey the school bus laws in California. Learn the “flashing signal light system” that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending actions.
  • Yellow flashing lights mean that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Drivers should slow down and prepare to stop.
  • Red flashing lights and extended stop arms mean that the bus has stopped, and children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop and wait for red lights to stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
  • Be mindful of pedestrians crossing at intersections or crosswalks and slowdown in school zones and residential areas, especially for children playing and gathering near bus stops.
  • Never overtake a school bus, unless you are traveling on a highway or interstate with multiple lanes.
  • Don’t be a distracted driver. You endanger your own life and the lives of others. Your call, text or email can wait.

For more school safety-related tips from Chain | Cohn | Stiles, visit the “Safety Alerts” section here. And if you or your loved one is ever involved in an accident, call the accident lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000 or visit the website, chainlaw.com.