Back to School Safety 2020: Let’s not forget the School Bus

There is a lot of concern about the safety of young people going back to school this fall. Most of that centers around the change Covid-19 has brought to our lives. But let’s not forget another critical safety issue – the school bus.

 

All too often we hear of a young person injured or killed en route to or from a school bus.

Yet many drivers, on their self-centered rush to get to work or home, drive too quickly near buses, pass them unnecessarily or illegally and fail to allow for little people caught up in the excitement of being young.

It is easy to forget that many of these youngsters are not yet wise to the ways of traffic and, despite the best efforts of bus drivers, parents and teachers, will often fail to look both ways before running across a street, or even one way.

This is especially true during these first weeks of school as they are starting to fall into a pattern and might forget all those warnings.

 

Drivers should be aware that school children will need even more time to adapt to the routine of school bus protocol this September 2020

I have always found it interesting that people who don’t drive are the ones most likely to walk in a dangerous location near traffic, jay walk etc. Similarly I would suggest that people without children are the ones most likely to behave unsafely with respect to driving near school buses.

It is estimated that approximately one-quarter of Canadian adults have children in the public school system at any given time. Many of these students will be walking. I therefore postulate that at least 75% of drivers have no first-hand daily reminder of young people on buses and therefore are at risk of forgetting how impetuous many of these little people can be.

 

Spend a few hours with a school bus driver and you might just understand how ignorant and callous many drivers are.

In fact, you’d be downright scared to see people flying by in both directions as the bus slows and stops. You’d see drivers passing in truly ridiculous locations, endangering not only themselves and the opposing driver, but everyone onboard the bus.

There has been a disturbing tendency in recent years for drivers to ignore the yellow warning light at intersections, to consider it a warning to speed up rather than slow down. The incidents of intersection accidents are steadily increasing and due to the nature of the resulting crash, they are more serious.

Unfortunately some drivers treat the yellow warning lights on a school bus with the same disregard. In this case it could well mean hitting a young person who didn’t wait for the bus to stop or is hurrying to get to the bus stop.

 

Just as a yellow light at an intersection doesn’t mean ‘hurry up’, a yellow light on a school bus does not mean ‘pass me now before I have to stop’

And don’t be in such a hurry to get underway again. Some drivers have been known to pass the bus while it is still stopped, as the warning arm withdraws, only to find a mom or dad starting across the road after seeing their child off to school.

 

Parents aren’t immune to dangerous behaviour, either, often speeding to catch a missed bus, stopping in a dangerous location to drop off little Johnny or Mary, providing clothing that affects their ability to see and setting poor examples of where and how to cross the road and where to walk.

How many times have you seen a parent, with child in hand, walking down the wrong side of the road, crossing between intersections, within sight of one or only a few metres from one?

 

Another thing to keep in mind is that a school bus is a large heavy vehicle.

Not only does it not accelerate, travel or stop quickly, a school bus requires a tremendous amount of real estate to turn.

Remember, if you can’t see the school bus driver in their side view mirror, it is strongly likely that he or she can’t see you behind them. Do not follow too closely or attempt to pass on the inside near intersections.

As drivers, we all know how inconvenient and expensive it can be to be involved in a crash. Just imagine how you’d feel, and for how long, if you were to strike a youngster because you weren’t paying attention or didn’t allow for the fact they weren’t!

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