Schools are back in session across Alabama this week — and that means a return of big yellow school buses to a road near you.
Tuscaloosa school bus accidents are often the result of impatient motorists. A large number of accidents are also pedestrian accidents that occur near a bus stop or in residential areas where students are walking to meet the bus. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there were more than 363,000 fatal school-transportation accidents in the last decade.
Alabama’s School Bus Stop Law was updated in 2006. The law requires a vehicle overtaking a bus from either direction to stop when the bus is stopped to pick up or drop off children. Drivers on a divided highway need not stop when traveling in the opposite direction. A first offense is punishable by a $400 fine. A second violation can result in a driver’s license suspension and 100 hours of community service.
The Alabama Department of Transportation reports that more than 375,000 students rely on a school bus to get to and from school each day. Buses travel almost 500,000 miles a day in Alabama.
Some 17,000 students visit the emergency room each year for injuries sustained in a school bus accidents. Most of those happen when a student is getting on or off the bus. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that 40 percent of such school-bus pedestrian accidents involve children between the ages of 5 and 7 — a reminder that it’s our young passengers who are most at risk of a serious or fatal school bus accident. Nationally, three times more student deaths occur outside the bus than while riding on it.
Tips for Drivers:
– Watch for children walking to or from school, especially in residential areas during the early morning and afternoon hours. Pay particular attention before backing up.
– Slow down and watch for children.
– Obey school bus laws. Yellow lights mean a bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Red flashing lights mean a bus is actively boarding or deboarding and motorists are required to stop.
Safety Tips for Children:
– Stand back from the curb while waiting for a bus to stop.
– Plan to arrive at the bus stop at least 5 minutes early.
– Wait for driver permission before boarding.
– Use handrails. Be mindful of drawstrings, backpacks or other items that may be caught in the door.
– Never walk behind a bus.
– Walk at least 10 feet in front of a bus and make eye contact with the driver before crossing the street. More than one-third of school-age pedestrian fatalities result from a school bus or other school transportation vehicle driving straight into a pedestrian who has disembarked.
– Never attempt to retrieve a dropped possession from beneath a school bus.
Click here for a list of Tuscaloosa School Bus Routes.
Take some time to talk to your child about school bus safety. Remember to discuss how to be safe on the way to and from the bus stop. And please practice some patience behind the wheel as the big yellow school buses return to our roads this fall.
Tuscaloosa city, county school students back for first day of classes, By Chris Pow, August 20, 2012, Al.com
ADOT Has Bus Safety in Focus this August, Cross & Smith LLC, Aug. 15, 2012.