School Bus Safety: Avoid the danger zones

School Bus Safety: Avoid the danger zones

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Research shows more children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location. Two were hit in Texas just this month after getting off the school bus. Most children who lose their life in bus-related accidents are four to seven years old and are walking. The National Safety Council shows that most of the time, children are either hit by the bus or killed by a driver illegally passing a stopped bus.

It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a bus that is stopped to load or unload children. The loading and unloading area is called the danger zone. It's a blind spot extending 10 to 15 feet around the bus, where children are at risk of not being seen by oncoming traffic. Experts say distracted driving is also to blame for the majority of these accidents.

"It's the increase of every driver having a cell phone nowadays. The school bus is the single safest way to travel but it isn't if the people in front of it and behind it aren't paying attention."

The general manager of Durham School Services, Brian Gibson, says he gets a call every day from bus drivers saying a car ran their stop arms. Stop arms are the flashing signs that turn out to stop cars when a bus is dropping off or picking up a child. Some states like North Carolina are testing extended stop arms on buses which go out an extra six feet off the bus - but Gibson doesn't think that's the answer. He says the real problem is distracted driving. Drivers that are so busy looking at their phones - forget the stop sign - they don't even see the bus.
Experts say every parent needs to have a conversation with their child about crossing the road in front of a school bus.
"The student gets off the bus and the driver has no more vocal conversation with them but they can hand gesture. Many of our drivers use a hand gesture but many students will just get off the bus, take off running and never stop."
DPS Trooper Dan Buesing says speed is an issue in the school zones. He says to stay at the speed limit or below and to remember that kids may not be following directions as they should. He warns drivers to keep their distractions to nothing while in the school zone.

"Drivers in school zones are strictly prohibited from having cell phone devices. There is no cell phone or text more important then our children's safety."

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