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Let’s help stop school bus accidents that injure and kill children now

September 11, 2014 by Steven M. Gursten

‘Stop’ means ‘stop,’ especially when it comes to kids and pedestrians around school buses

school bus accidents (2)

Last week it was back to school time. That means parents all over Michigan packing up lunches, backpacks and taking their little ones out to the school bus.

While it’s important for every parent to teach our children how to recognize and act safely around school buses, the reality of most school bus accidents is that many more children are hurt outside the bus, and often by other drivers who do not stop.

For example, most children who are seriously injured or tragically lose their lives in bus-related accidents are pedestrians, five to seven years old.  These children are hit by the bus, or by motorists illegally passing a stopped school bus. Take a look at the national numbers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  • An average of 24 school-age children die in school transportation-related traffic crashes each year (11 occupants of school transportation vehicles and 13 pedestrians).
  • Since 2000 there were 371,104 fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes. Of those, 1,245 were classified as school transportation-related.
  • Since 2000, 130 school-age pedestrians (younger than 19) have died in school transportation-related crashes. Over 2/3 (67%) were struck by school buses.
  • There were 56 (43%) school-age pedestrians killed in school transportation-related crashes between the ages of 5 and 7 years old.

On an average day in Michigan, 18,000 buses transport 860,000 students to and from school. Michigan averages three fatalities per year due to school transportation-related crashes, according to the Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation. There are also many injuries.

The good news is, these deaths and injuries can be prevented if parents teach their children some simple bus safety tips, and the public becomes more aware of the extreme importance of driving safely around buses to protect these precious little lives.

The area 10 feet around a school bus is where children are in the most danger of being struck by a passing car or being run over by a bus driver who fails to see the child. All 50 states have a law making it illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children, but these tragic accidents continue.

So how can we stop children from being hit by cars around school buses?

Do you know the law in Michigan? It’s actually pretty simple. The law requires motorists to stop when the overhead red lights of a school bus are flashing. The law applies to drivers on both sides of the road, unless the highway is divided by a barrier.

For more information, take a look at our blog on Michigan’s law for stopping for school buses to avoid pedestrian accidents.

And this blog reviews school bus safety tips for kids boarding so they don’t get hit.

(Note: A school transportation-related crash is defined as a crash which involves a school bus body vehicle, or a non-school bus functioning as a school bus, transporting children to or from school or school-related activities.)

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