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How to Keep Your Child safe on the School Bus

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 so did I. 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 about 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 2003 to 2012. 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. Parents and children shouldn’t have to worry about the dangers associated with riding to and from school our goal should be zero 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:

  • Keeping their limbs inside
  • Minimizing the sound on their smart phones
  • Sitting as soon as they board and remaining seated
  • Not screaming at the child in the back of the bus
  • Not playing loud music on their latest gadget
  • Not fighting or demonstrating any other aggressive behavior
  • Not distracting the driver with idle chatter
  • Staying a safe distance from the road while waiting for the bus
  • Buckling up when seat belts are available

Bus drivers have a responsibility to stay off their cell phones while driving, remain sober, and avoid impairing prescription drugs. We too need to be responsible parents and ensure our children remain seated so that the bus drivers can focus on their driving and keep our children safe.

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.

1 Comment

  1. Kathi says:

    I am doing a school paper on MADD and I have been working on it for two straight days. Just when I think I have what I need I find more. I am so sorry for Ms. Lightner and those who have lost loved ones to drunk driving. I am having a difficult time with my paper because of the fact that these deaths could have been prevented but well… I have learned so much and had no clue about all this with the “laws” and I am going to do the best I can to get the message out. Please all of you who are able to carry on this mission, never give up. Thank you for what you do.

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