It’s back to school time for hundreds of thousands of students, parents, educators and school staff. The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) is reminding drivers to be alert, use extreme caution and be safe behind the wheel.
Each year in the United States, approximately 450,000 public school buses travel 4.3 billion miles to transport 23.5 million children to-and-from school and school-related activities. In 2013, there were 825 collisions either directly or indirectly involving a school bus in Kentucky. These collisions resulted in 316 injuries and one fatality.
“Safety on our roadways is the responsibility of every driver,” KOHS Director Bill Bell said. “Traffic is increasing in and around school zones and school buses are on the road again. This busy time of year can also be a dangerous one — especially for children.”
Fewer daylight hours can make it harder for motorists to see young students. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more school-age pedestrians have been killed between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. and between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. than any other times of the day.
Whether walking, riding a bicycle, or catching a school bus to and from school, the KOHS is reminding parents and students of safe transportation practices.
School Bus: School buses are the safest mode of transportation for getting children back and forth to school. Even so, kids need to be especially careful around the school bus “danger zone” – 10 feet in front, 10 feet behind, and on each side of the bus. Kids should:
•Wait five giant steps from the road and when the school bus arrives, wait until the driver says to board.
•When boarding the school bus, quickly find a seat, sit facing the front and do what the school bus driver says to do.
•When exiting the bus, look out for cars. When off the bus, take five giant steps from the school bus.
•Look left-right-left to make sure no cars are coming and wait for the driver to signal it’s safe to cross.
Walking: Pedestrians 10 years old and younger should be accompanied by an adult or young adult on their way to and from school. Kids should:
•Walk on the sidewalk and if there is none, walk facing traffic.
•Not push or shove others when you walk.
•When crossing the street, look left-right-left for cars. Do not cross if a car is coming and use a crosswalk if available.
Biking: The two best protections when biking to and from school are a properly fitted bicycle helmet and a good grasp of traffic safety rules. Kids should:
•Always wear a helmet and make sure to buckle the chin strap.
•Ride along streets with low traffic volume and at lower speeds.
•Always ride in the same direction as traffic, and stop at all stop signs and signals.
•Never use headphones or cell phones while riding.
Car: Children should always ride in the back seat. Children in the front seat are 40 percent more likely to be injured in crashes.
One last tip: Whether walking, biking or driving, stay completely focused on the road and put your cell phone away.
“The importance of highway safety cannot be overstated. By utilizing these tips, you could save a life,” Bell said.
For more back-to-school safety tips, visit Parents Central at www.safercar.gov/parents.