The first crash I was in just happened to be on a bus when I was going to school. I was 13 and the bus driver slammed into the back of another bus while he was looking in a rear view mirror because a little girl was standing. He was trying to get her to sit down. I was the bus monitor and it was my job to make sure everyone remained in their seats. She was so short, I didn’t see her over the seat backs on the bus. My friend sitting next to me slammed into the rail on the back of the seat in front of her and I, too, did the same.
Unfortunately, my mouth hit the rail because I extended my arm to protect the girl next to me. I still do that to this day, even though we now have seat belts. There were 8 of us injured, none seriously, and I remember how excited I was to go to the hospital in an ambulance. My friend broke her collarbone. I chipped some teeth and bloodied my lip. We were the worst injured. We were so lucky. But every time I look at my chipped teeth, I think of that little girl standing on the bus, who caused a crash and how I didn’t see her and what could have happened.
This year 25 million children will be starting their school day by boarding a school bus. It is our responsibility to make sure they arrive alive. According to NHTSA, there were more than 1200 fatal school bus crashes from 2001 to 2010. More than 1,300 people were killed during that same time period. In fact, “an average of 18 school-age children die in school transportation-related crashes each year. On average, six of those are occupants of school transportation vehicles. The other 12 are pedestrians killed by school transportation vehicles or other vehicles involved in school bus-related crashes. In 2010 specifically, there were 129 fatalities in school transportation-related crashes. Of those, 16 (12%) were occupants of school transportation vehicles: six drivers and 10 passengers.”(School Transportation-Related Crashes).
Bus drivers have a tremendous responsibility and most of them do it very well. They need all the cooperation and support from parents they can get. When you are hauling several busloads a day, patience isn’t just a virtue it is a necessity! Not only do we want our driver’s attention focused on the task at hand, driving the bus, but we want to ensure that our children’s behavior makes that job easy. It doesn’t help when our children are screaming, playing loud music on the “I” gadgets, jumping up and down, fighting and wreaking general havoc.
As parents we need to remind our children that disruptive behavior on a bus can cause crashes, (outside of being taped and posted all over the web to show how foolish our children can behave.)
Our children need to understand that they can avoid potentially dangerous behavior by:
Bus drivers have a responsibility to stay off their cell phones while driving and we have a responsibility to ensure our children remain seated so that the bus drivers can focus on their driving and keep our children safe.